Managing someone else’s dementia can be a daunting and overwhelming experience, caregivers who are facing dementia are likely to feel as much stress and anxiety as they are confused and angry, for this reason, it is important to have a strategy and plan in place before the challenge of dementia sets in.
If you or someone you know is struggling with memory loss, check out our Alzheimer’s disease and memory loss center, the sooner you can begin to manage the symptoms and stress of dementia, the easier it will be to care for the person experiencing it.
Adjust your expectations
The first step to managing dementia is adjusting your expectations, you will need to adjust your caregiver expectations as the person with dementia may not be able to do everything they used to. It’s important to know what you can realistically expect from a person with dementia.
If you have a partner, you should set a new caregiving schedule together, for example, one of you might take charge of driving the person out of the house every day while the other focuses on cooking and shopping for groceries.
Sometimes it helps if one spouse is in charge of meal preparation while the other handles transportation, with this strategy, both spouses can foster their own interests while still helping each other out when needed.
The key is to know what you can reasonably expect from each other and then work together to meet those expectations.
Recognize the early warning signs
Some of the early warning signs of dementia are forgetfulness, trouble concentrating, and mood swings, if you notice these symptoms in someone you know or love, it is important to take note and follow up with a specialist so they can be properly diagnosed.
The earlier someone receives a diagnosis of dementia, the sooner they can begin to manage their symptoms and stress. It is also important for caregivers to recognize these signs because it will help them adjust their expectations when caring for the person experiencing dementia.
How to cope with dementia
There may be times when you find yourself feeling overwhelmed, it is important to recognize when fatigue and anxiety are setting in so that you can take care of yourself.
Try to take a break when your body signals that it needs one. Just as importantly, make sure to nurture yourself and allow time for self-care, this can include exercise, spending time outside, meditating, or relaxing with a hot bath.
Additionally, focus on the positive aspects of the person’s life so far, if the changes are affecting your relationship with them, consider what adjustments need to be made to maintain a healthy connection, these might range from trying new hobbies or engaging in quality conversations together each day.
Try these dementia-friendly habits
There are many ways to cope with dementia and the changes it brings to your life, one way is to adopt dementia-friendly habits that reduce stress and make living easier.
- Accept the diagnosis
- Focus on strengths, not weaknesses
- Keep routines as close to normal as possible
- Stay organized
Find support for your loved one
No one can manage dementia alone, it’s important to have people you can rely on for help and support, you may need help with housework, cooking or other tasks as your loved one’s dementia progresses.
If possible, try to form a group of family members or friends who can take turns helping you care for your loved one.