How to Support Someone with Dementia
September 4th, 2023
Knowing how to support someone with dementia can make the journey easier and more positive for both parties. A dementia diagnosis brings with it many challenges, which will change as the illness progresses. It is therefore wise to learn and understand how to support someone with dementia so that you’re both entering the process with the necessary foresight to navigate the path ahead.
What Can You Do To Support Someone With Dementia?
First and foremost, you should educate yourself about dementia. Learn the specifics about the type of dementia and the specific stage. If you’re looking after someone with Alzheimer’s disease, they may need a different level of care than someone with late stage dementia. Being armed with as much knowledge as possible is the first port of call for anyone wanting to know how to support someone with dementia.
Assessing the environment and removing any hazards is crucial when supporting someone with dementia. Adding aids and adaptations like handrails to stairs or walls, decluttering to make extra space and installing good lighting throughout the home can reduce accidents and help dementia patients remain independent.
Food And Drink
Dementia can lead to eating problems, either from a new-found fussiness or trouble swallowing. You’ll need to know how to support someone with dementia to eat and drink regularly, providing a balanced diet and regular hydration. Stick to foods you know your loved one will enjoy and look at soft food recipes or similar if eating is becoming more difficult.
Your loved one might have to take many types of medication multiple times a day. Create a medication schedule and use pill organisers to make it easier. This is especially important if you’re not always able to be physically there. Stay on top of medical appointments and have contact numbers of the GP and any local organisations involved in caregiving to hand too.
Communication is important in many forms when supporting someone with dementia. When the person is still cognizant, you can talk through their dementia care and plan for the future. You could discuss how they feel about home care or moving to a care home at a later stage too. Have a good line of communication between yourself and any other caregivers or family members, perhaps devising a rota to give you all a break. Also, learn how to talk to people living with dementia, as they may need you to talk slower, give them time to respond and be more patient when having conversations.
Understanding how to support someone with dementia isn’t just about the practical side of things. Supporting them to lead an active life and still enjoy the things they used to is just as important. Help them keep their mind and body active by doing things they are able to, even if they aren’t as capable as before. Try uncomplicated games like Connect 4, or help them into the garden for some light gardening or a gentle walk.
It can be tempting to think that supporting someone with dementia means doing everything for them. That isn’t always the case, especially in the earlier stages. Even if things take longer than usual, let your loved one do as many things as they comfortably can do for themselves. You could leave step-by-step instructions so they know what to do without you being by their side all the time. If some tasks become too difficult, help them maintain their dignity as much as you can by being discreet and avoiding any patronising phrases or instructions.
Patience And Positivity
Supporting someone with dementia can be a challenging but also rewarding experience. Dementia can be unpredictable, with each day offering up new obstacles. Be prepared for this unpredictability and practise patience, even if that means leaving a room to take a minute for yourself. Remembering times of connection and happy moments can also help you stay positive. You’re making a valuable contribution to someone’s life and should feel a sense of accomplishment in doing so.
Figuring out how to support someone with dementia also means taking time to look after yourself. There will be good days and bad days, and it can be an arduous task at times. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, either from siblings if you’re caring for an elderly parent, trusted friends or other caregivers. You could also look into a respite care provider that can give you a temporary break and your loved one dedicated care in a safe and secure environment.
Residential Dementia Care
There may come a time when it’s necessary to think about more permanent care options for a loved one with dementia. Residential dementia care can give people living with dementia a comfortable, independent and enjoyable life, and give you the peace of mind that your loved one is being given round-the-clock care by trained professionals.
Knowing how to support someone with dementia to move into a care home is another part of being a carer. They will need you by their side to navigate the transition and continue to support them. You can also continue to have regular contact and make visits to the care home, so your role is always ongoing and you continue to be an incredibly important part of your loved one’s life.
Respite and Dementia Care From New Care Homes
If you’re currently supporting someone with dementia and want to find out about respite care or dementia care, New Care Homes has locations throughout the UK. Our care home interiors have been designed specifically for the needs of seniors and those with dementia, with light and airy spaces, obvious signage and a full programme of wellbeing activities.
Our dementia care services are run by highly skilled staff trained providing top level dementia care and support. Please contact us to find out more about the services we offer or to visit one of our care homes.