Saturday 21st September marks World Alzheimer’s Day. As a tribute to the cause and one of our chosen charities, the Alzheimer’s Society, which we support through our Together for Families programme, we’d like to share some tips on caring for family members with dementia.
Caring for your family member
Looking after a loved one with dementia can be a rewarding but also challenging thing to do. One day may be far more difficult than the next, and it can often be quite unpredictable. Here’s a small checklist of tips to help you cope with caring day-to-day:
- Remember that you might need to repeat yourself and explain things in a different way than what you’re used to
- Simple, clear instructions are best to help communicate with your family member
- A daily routine will help you organise yourself and provide your family member with familiarity
- A to-do list may help with competing priorities.
- Try to make sure the person is eating and drinking regularly and takes their medication
- If exercise is possible, try helping your family member do small amounts regularly
- If you need to physically support the person’s movements, make sure you do this carefully and with your wellbeing in mind
- Allow your family members to do as much as possible themselves. Visual clues or prompts can be used to help with this
- Providing your family members with choices is a great way for them to feel empowered in decision-making day-to-day, although try to limit the number of options. For example, a choice between two outfits rather than four
- Reduce distractions such as the television or radio when communicating with your family member, this will help them focus on what you are saying
- Keep things tidy and risk-free by avoiding clutter. Try to keep potentially harmful things out of the way
- Remember things can change from day-to-day so remain flexible to allow your family members to be more independent on these days.
- Remain positive! Some days may be more difficult than others, but remember you are doing a great job and helping your family member with a very complex condition
Look after yourself
Caring for a family member with dementia can be emotionally and physically draining. Remember: you need to care for yourself as much as your family member. Here’s a small self-care checklist:
- Make sure you eat regular, nutritious meals (with plenty of fruit and veg!)
- Exercise; a short brisk walk is a great pick me up for both the body and mind
- Make whatever time you can for your own hobbies and interests
- Get a good night’s sleep. If the family member you’re caring for wakes up during the night, try and sleep while they’re sleeping or nap during the day. Consider outside support such as overnight carers if your sleep is very affected
- Get support from other family members, friends or health or social care professionals. Contact social services to ensure you’re getting all the support you can. It’s important to know you’re not alone in caring for your loved one
- If you’re struggling emotionally, remember that what you’re feeling is valid. Consider talking to a counsellor or your GP about other support networks. It’s okay to reach out for help.
If you would like to learn more, the Alzheimer’s Society website has lots of useful information, as well as resources for carers.
If you’d like to donate to the Alzheimer’s Society you can also do so here. You can also use #WorldAlzheimersDay to help spread awareness on social media.
photo credits – Alzheimer’s Society