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How to Be a Dementia Caregiver: Tips for Success

a caregiver helps her client dress up

Caring for dementia patients is often a challenging task. Whether you are a senior caregiving professional or simply looking to care for your parents, grandparents, or loved one with dementia, it’s of utmost importance to approach the whole process with knowledge, patience, and understanding.

Exhibiting a positive attitude is an important element found in successful dementia caregivers. As you would expect with dementia, new challenges may arise each day. A dementia caregiver must be prepared to handle each new challenge as they come, no matter how difficult it may be. 

Continue reading to find out more tips on how to be a successful dementia caregiver.

Ask for Help and Accept Support

Dementia patients can act differently every day, so you may run out of ideas on how to handle them. This can be stressful for any caregiver.

A successful, experienced caregiver asks for help. There is a myriad of support groups offering support and advice for caregivers of dementia patients. The support these groups offer is invaluable in helping you not feel alone or isolated as a caregiver. Additionally, a support group may provide tips or advice about caring for your loved one, which may prove helpful. 

Empathize Actively

Just like any other human relationship, care begins with empathy and compassion. The same goes for dementia caregiving. According to Jane Byrne, project manager at a nursing home in Dublin, “Always remember that all dementia patients are human beings and deserve to be treated right. Once you understand about patients’ conditions, plus how they act out, you will be able to understand them better, and empathize with them in every situation.”

Knowing How to Answer Patients’ Questions

One main symptom of dementia is memory loss. People suffering from dementia may no longer remember important events or other things, such as basic care. This is never a reason to mishandle or punish them. A good caregiver will understand memory loss is difficult, but not intentional, and communicate with them appropriately.

For example, a patient may not remember that his uncle is deceased. When the patient inquires about the uncle, it’s not appropriate for a caregiver to tell him that the uncle is deceased. It would be a needlessly painful reminder of the loss of a dear family member. The best way to handle this is to redirect this question to a different question with a more pleasant answer.

You Can Never be a Perfect Caregiver

Human beings are never perfect. We all have emotions, and they can sometimes get the better of us; especially when providing care to a dementia patient. Sometimes, you will be angry, impatient, fearful, or even feel like giving up. That’s all perfectly normal.

The best thing you can do is love. Once you love your patient as you love yourself, you can never go wrong with giving your best to a dementia patient. Furthermore, always try to empathize with such patients; putting yourself in their shoes because you have no room to judge them.

For more information about caring for patients with dementia, download our Living Well with Alzheimer’s Disease pamphlet.

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