As of 2020, there were over 55 million people around the world living with dementia. That number is expected to more than double by 2050. It’s important to understand how to care for your loved ones as they get older and potentially suffer from signs of dementia.
Luckily for families across the world, healthcare resources for seniors living with dementia have improved a lot over the years. You can find a retirement home or assisted living with dementia care. There are also government programs that can pay you to care for your family member.
Here’s your guide to dealing with dementia as a senior or caretaker.
Early Signs of Dementia
Dementia can present itself in a number of ways. Some people progress much faster than others, so it’s important to see the warning signs before it’s too late.
Some common early symptoms of dementia include memory problems, increasing confusion, and changes in personality. They may also suffer from withdrawal or depression as a result of their loss of ability to do normal everyday tasks or difficulty remembering things.
If you’ve noticed any of these symptoms, it may be time to get a dementia diagnosis. The individual’s local doctor can help them get a diagnosis and determine the source of the problem.
This process involves lab tests, cognitive testing, brain imaging, and a psychiatric assessment.
Keep in mind that some people may refuse to act on their symptoms, either due to pride or attributing them to getting older. Be patient with them and try asking their doctor for assistance.
Living With Dementia at Home
As a person who has developed dementia, it’s important to know that you are not alone in this. It’s okay to reach out for help and rely on the people who relied on you when you were younger. This is your chance to focus on the things you can still do and enjoy.
One of the best things for your mental and emotional health is to stay socially active. Keep in touch with people and engage in various activities that stimulate your mind. This will in turn help decrease your ongoing cognitive impairment and improve your quality of life.
It’s also important to stay open and honest with the people around you. Your family members can’t help you if they don’t know anything is wrong or has changed. The last thing you want is for your dementia to worsen to the point that you harm yourself on accident.
Staying Physically and Mentally Healthy
Caregivers need to do more than clean up their loved ones’ homes and keep them safe. It’s also their job to help them stay physically active and feel positive.
It’s all too easy for a person diagnosed with dementia to find themselves falling into depression and isolation. After all, they may feel limited when it comes to conversation or even remembering who they’re talking to.
However, social isolation will only cause their dementia to progress at a faster pace. Instead, it’s up to their caregiver to encourage them to get out of the house and participate in some of their favorite activities.
Another issue a person with dementia may encounter is missing meals. As a caregiver, you’ll need to help them eat healthy meals regularly.
Advice for Caregivers
At what point do you need to become a full-time caregiver, though?
First of all, you need to consider whether or not becoming a caregiver is possible for you in your current situation. Not every family can uproot their lives and move across the country or the world to take care of an aging parent.
Long-distance caregiving is one option for someone who lives further away. This may involve relying on resources local to your family member, such as a part-time caregiver or cleaner. You may also want to establish plan visits with your other family members.
If you do get to spend time with them, you can participate in some memory exercises. This includes things like chess, jigsaw puzzles, knitting a sweater, or playing board games. It helps if they’ve already enjoyed these activities in the past.
Assisted Living With Dementia Care
Not everyone can afford the time or expense to care for their loved ones full-time. Some people have jobs and responsibilities that they can’t leave behind. They may also not have the training or expertise to care for someone with worsening dementia.
There is no shame in seeking outside help when it comes to your family member. A retirement home or assisted living facility may be the answer, depending on the severity of the individual’s dementia.
For example, a retirement home can provide a safe environment for someone in the early stages. However, more severe cases will require professional and medical help.
When choosing a board and care facility, make sure that they’re qualified to assist with your loved one’s condition. Take a tour and talk to the current residents to learn more about their experiences.
Coping as a Loved One
At the end of the day, you need to remember to take care of yourself. Caregivers go through a lot of stress and can easily get burned out. You may feel anxious, depressed, tired, and begin to feel resentful.
Find a way to let some steam off and hand over the reins to someone else for a bit. You can find respite care services that offer short-term relief for primary caregivers. That way, you can take a break and even go on vacation.
If you’re continuing to struggle with caregiving, it may be time to consider a board and care facility for your loved one.
Don’t Be Afraid to Get Help
Living with dementia is a struggle for both seniors and their caregivers. There’s no shame in seeking professional help if you struggle to provide a safe environment for your senior citizen.
Royal Garden Board & Care Homes provide beautiful living quarters and 24-hour professional staff for your loved ones. Our services cover assisted living, Alzheimer’s and dementia care, hospice care, and more. Contact us if you have any questions about our facilities and to schedule a tour.