8 Useful Tips for Dementia Caregivers

Being a caregiver for a loved one with dementia is both incredibly rewarding and infinitely challenging. Our goal in this post is to provide you with useful information that can help you to create a positive and peaceful environment for your loved one as well as for yourself.

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While there are a plethora of tips to consider, here are our top 8:

  1. Establish a positive environment: It’s critical that you create and set a peaceful mood in the atmosphere that you’ll be sharing with your loved one. What does this mean? Be mindful about your body language, including: posture, tone of voice, relaxed facial expressions and how you leverage the power of touch to interact with your caree.

  2. Be purposeful & deliberate in your communication: Focus on speaking slowly and clearly, while also taking the time to ensure that you craft simple messages. Take a deep breath before you express yourself in words and consider whether or not what you’re about to say could be interpreted as confusing or aggressive. Ask simple questions and if you need to repeat yourself, try to refrain from raising your voice or speaking faster. Break down what you’re saying into steps to avoid information overload.

  3. Use visual cues to encourage recall: Too often we try to rush through what we may consider mundane or routine tasks on a daily basis. But when you’re a caregiver, it’s imperative to make time for these routine daily tasks in order to provide stimulation and the best possible opportunity for the proper care of your loved one. For example, when helping your loved one to get dressed in the morning, present him or her with the option of two shirts and allow for a choice to be made.

  4. Listen with your physical senses & also your heart: These days, we often find ourselves easily distracted because of iPhones, iPads, computers, social media and other tools that easily take our attention away from our primary task at-hand. It’s important to remain as attentive as possible while you’re caregiving and to find the strength to listen with your heart when your loved one is having difficulty communicating with words.

  5. Change the subject when you need fresh, new energy: If you feel like you’ve hit a roadblock after employing several strategies to coax an answer from your loved one or if your loved one seems to know what they want to say but don’t know how to say it, try to change the subject and redirect the conversation. When your loved one is showing increased signs of agitation and frustration, it’s a clear signal to take a different approach.

  6. Take a trip through the past: People living with dementia generally have difficulty recalling short-term memories; however, they may be able to explicitly and articulately describe events that happened decades ago. These memories tend to spark joy and may help to re-ground your loved one and settle his or her fragile emotional state.

  7. Remember to laugh & laugh lots: It’s important to everyone involved in the caregiving process that you always make time to find the humor in what your journey presents. Humor not only helps to alleviate difficult moments throughout the day, but it also boasts health benefits that can positively impact both you and your loved one.

  8. Respond with love & intention: Even though you may be in the midst of working through a very trying and overwhelming challenge, it’s important to respond with love and intention. Do your best to avoid negative feedback and to show affection to your loved one when they’re experiencing an emotional meltdown. Try to put yourself in their shoes for a moment and imagine what life would be like if you had to live through it in a constant state of confusion or anxiety. A simple hand hold or reassuring pat on the back can do wonders for the soul.

What are some helpful tools or tips you’ve relied upon while providing care for a loved one with dementia?

CareZare is a FREE app for family caregivers to help them manage their care team and ensure the highest level of care for their loved one.