Carers play an extremely important role in supporting the physical, emotional and mental wellbeing of a loved one living with dementia. When a persons’ mental and/or physical health decreases as a result of dementia and daily activities become increasingly difficult, assistance from a confident, professionally trained, specialist dementia CAREGiver can make a world of difference in supporting you and your loved ones. 

If you are the primary carer of a person living with dementia, it is beneficial for both you and your loved one if you are self-assured in your caregiving abilities. This doesn’t mean you’re always expected to get it right (in fact, we can tell you now you wont always get it right), however being prepared for both the expected and unexpected situations, as well as having a good understanding of the disease, can help you to feel more confident in your caregiving role.

In the early stages of the disease, it’s a good time for you and your loved one to plan for the future. This may include obtaining a complete review of your loved one’s health by consulting a gerontologist or other health professionals, obtaining financial and legal advice and investigating care and support services available to you to help care for your loved one now or in the future. This is also a good time to voice your concerns and make suggestions to any health professionals involved in your loved one’s care. Planning ahead will help to lessen any anxieties you or your loved one may have, as well as avoid financial worries later down the track. During the early stages of their diagnosis, you will most likely find your loved one is still a highly capable individual, therefore it is a good time to support them by providing companionship while helping them prepare for the future.

Caring for a person in their early stages of dementia is a different experience to the latter. Clients’ don’t often need assistance with personal care such as dressing, washing or eating as they typically would in the advanced stages. What they may need help with is keeping a schedule, remembering to do the groceries or paying their bills. If you are the primary carer of a person living with dementia, it will benefit you both if you are fully informed about the disease and how you can best care for your loved one as the disease progresses. You can assist your loved one by offering to manage their money, keep track of their medications, arrange doctors’ appointments and by reminding them of family birthdays. It is important to avoid being domineering or dismissive of their opinions; rather you should help them maintain their independence for as long as possible.

As stages of dementia progresses, you may find yourself providing more hands-on care. You can help to avoid any reluctance, confusion or erratic behaviour in your loved one by maintaining a sense of confidence in your caregiving role. When you approach your role with confidence, your care recipient will feel more at ease. By remaining calm and reassuring your loved one, you will find yourself more capable of assessing each situation and catering towards their needs.

Providing emotional support and a positive environment for interaction for your loved one will assist with any hostility towards care, agitation and their general psychological wellbeing. Your behaviour and attitude towards your caregiving role will reflect onto your loved one, so being open with one another and encouraging will not only establish a stronger bond between you, but also help to promote confidence and a positive mindset for you both.

It is also important to recognise any psychological impacts your role as a caregiver may be having on you. Be sure to take care of your own health and wellbeing and avoid feeling overwhelmed by reminding yourself it is ok to make mistakes and reaching out to care and health services when you need assistance.

If you would like to discuss Home Instead Seniors Care’s dementia care services, please call our friendly staff on 1300 008 018. If you would like to download an information pack, please click here.