How to support someone with dementia

If someone you care for has dementia, you already know how difficult and upsetting this can be. However, there are ways to support someone with dementia that can help life run more smoothly. With time and care, you can continue to enjoy a great relationship with your loved one and help them to live a fulfilling life.

What difficulties can arise when caring with someone with dementia

Dementia is not a specific disease but a general term for the impaired ability to remember, think, or make decisions. Dementia can cause changes in a person’s cognition, behaviour, physical abilities, ability to communicate and personality. Obviously, this can be extremely stressful for the person as well as for their loved ones.

How to support someone with dementia

Understanding dementia can help you feel more confident in caring for someone with the condition. Dementia is complex and has different stages. Being aware of the common issues means you are prepared for situations that arise and know how to respond. There are many excellent resources available to help you understand dementia better. Dementia UK is a good place to start. There are also some great books available about dementia written specifically to guide families who are supporting someone with dementia.

Simple tips to follow to more effectively help support someone with dementia

Be patient

Caring for someone with dementia can be upsetting and frustrating. Your loved one may get agitated and emotional for no apparent reason. However, your loved one is experiencing challenges that cause them to behave in this way and are not being deliberately difficult. It can be hard to remain patient and calm in the face of challenging behaviour, but it is beneficial to you and your loved one if you can be as patient as possible.

Communicate clearly

The way we communicate with people living with dementia can be quite different from the type of interactions we ordinarily use. For example, it is polite to ask someone what they would like to eat, but for a person with dementia, this question may well be overwhelming. It is often easier for them if you offer a choice, such as soup or a sandwich, or in some cases, simply ask, would you like some soup?

Every person is different and people with dementia can have good days and bad days so it’s important to be adaptable. But often, questions with a simple yes or no answer are best. You should also speak clearly and in short sentences and only ask one question at a time.

We are also used to being honest with people as much as possible. However, for a person with dementia, brutal honesty can be very distressing. There are many times when a white lie can prevent a lot of anguish. For example, if your loved one asks where their mother is you can simply say she’s not here right now, rather than that she died thirty years ago.

Simplify personal care

Supporting someone with dementia will often include helping them with personal care, such as reminding them to shower, brush their teeth and get dressed. How much support they need with these tasks can vary. It is best to encourage them to do as much as they can by themselves.

You can make things simpler for them by laying out their clothes in the order they will put them on as well as choosing clothes without fiddly buttons and laces.

If your loved one needs help with washing and going to the toilet then you may both prefer to have a home carer come in and help with this. Speak to your local council to request a care needs assessment.

Support them with eating and drinking

Many people living with dementia experience problems with eating and drinking. They may lose their appetite or find that their tastes have changed. In addition, they may find it difficult to use cutlery. They may also get distracted or restless during meal times.

Often small regular meals work better than larger ones. Try to present food in an attractive way but don’t overcrowd the plate. For some people, offering one food at a time can help. Special cutlery is available for people with coordination problems. You can also offer finger foods such as small sandwiches or slices of fruit. You should avoid distractions such as TV or visitors during mealtimes to help your loved one stay focused and get the calories and nutrition they need.

Help them stay active

Research shows that being active can slow brain ageing. This is because exercise increases blood flow to the brain. Many people with dementia find that exercise can help bring clarity as well as boosting mood. Ideally, you want to exercise enough to raise the heartbeat. However, you may need to start slowly and build up gradually. If you are not sure how to help your loved one exercise safely, speak to their GP, physiotherapist or other health professional.

How Mumby’s Live-in Care can support someone with dementia

At Mumby’s, we specialise in caring for people with dementia and Alzheimer’s. All of our live-in carers are fully trained in general care and have specialist training on dementia and Alzheimer’s care. Staff are taught how to reassure and comfort dementia clients to make them feel safe and secure when everything else may seem unfamiliar. They will be patient and understanding with your loved one, support them whenever needed, and use tested strategies to cope with any challenging behaviour. Mumby’s offers outstanding dementia care at home.

If you need help supporting a loved one, speak to a member of our friendly and knowledgeable team today on freephone 0800 505 3511 or email info@mumbys.com to find out how we can assist you with your live-in care needs.