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Providing Compassionate In-Home Dementia Care: Tips for Family Caregivers

Seeing a family member deal with adverse effects of aging can be difficult, especially if they are dealing with dementia. It can get even more complicated when you take on a role that requires more than emotional support for this family member. Becoming a caregiver for an older family member is a noble decision, but it may not ultimately be in their best interest.

Contact us to discuss your options before making such an important care decision for someone you love. To learn more first, keep reading to understand what providing dementia care at home may entail.

Dementia Nursing Care v. Family Caregivers

Expert training – Unless you or another family member is a care professional, you’re likely not trained in essential tasks like emergency wound care or lifts – both of which can be essential in the event of a serious accident.

Field experience – Dementia care professionals will typically have worked in this field for many years, allowing them to handle its complexities. An important part of this experience is their ability to respond quickly in an emergency. While some people can keep a cool head, it is hard to know how you will react in these situations. 

Letting family stay family – Being responsible for care at a professional level for a family member can often put a strain on your relationship. You must manage this relationship closely if you choose to take on this role.

Basic Dementia Knowledge for Family Members Providing Dementia Care at Home

While we do not recommend family members provide care for dementia patients, it is important to understand the complexities of this condition, including the different ways it can manifest:

  • Alzheimer’s disease – As the most well-known type of dementia, it is characterized by memory issues, difficulty speaking, mood changes, and issues with reasoning and thought. It is caused by structures called “plaques” and “tangles”, which form because of a buildup of compounds called amyloid and tau.
  • Frontotemporal dementia (FTD) - This type has many of the same symptoms as Alzheimer’s. It is distinguished by the area of the brain damaged by dementia: the frontal and temporal lobes. When it affects either of the frontal lobes, it can often manifest as a dramatic change in personality. If it affects either of the temporal lobes, it results in aphasia, which is a condition characterized by difficulties with speech and language.
  • Vascular dementia – The main distinguishing symptoms for this type are issues with concentration and speed of thought, which stems from issues with blood flow to the brain.
  • Lewy Body dementia – Also known as Dementia with Lewy Bodies (DLB), this type is characterized by clumps of proteins that show up in nerves and affect brain functioning. It shares various symptoms with Parkinson’s disease and may even be misdiagnosed at first because of this.

Special Considerations for Dementia Care in the Home

Patience – If you have never encountered the symptoms of dementia before, they can require an adjustment. Parts of their cognition become more difficult to use or may disappear entirely. Because of this, it can be difficult to understand how some people with dementia behave. If you plan to look after a family member with dementia, learn how to work with them as they are, not how you expect them to be.

Work within their reality – Anyone with short-term memory loss from dementia will most likely struggle with corrections about their memory gaps. For instance, reminding them about a loved one passing when they believe they are alive is a bad idea. While they will likely not remember your correction, the feelings of loss and confusion will stay with them.

Written reminders – If your loved one is having memory issues, you cannot count on them to remember important dates or appointments. We recommend writing down everything you need them to remember. Put the reminders in a place they look at consistently throughout the day. You should also have a calendar prominently displayed for them to help them remember important dates.

Consider the Responsible Choice: In-Home Dementia Care from Trained Professionals

Looking after an aging family member is an honourable pursuit, but it may not be in their best interest or yours. You want what’s best for your family, but unless you are a trained caregiver, providing dementia care at home yourself is often not the answer. Consider letting someone else help.

Contact us today to find out what options ComForCare has for you and your loved ones, so you can both focus on being family.

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