If you don’t have a medical education or nursing background, then you may not know where to begin, but there’s a lot you can do for an elder with dementia.
For starters, you should be able to determine how severe your senior’s dementia is. If they need someone to help them get out of bed, get dressed, guided to the kitchen table, cooked for and spoon fed, then you should consider moving them to a senior living facility.
HOWEVER, if they’re simply suffering from the common symptoms (i.e. mood swings and memory loss), then there’s a lot you can do.
Maintain a regular routine; a strict schedule. Keep an alarm system so that your senior wakes up, eats, and enjoys activities at exact times.
Why is this important?
Routine is necessary for strengthening a waning memory. Probably the best way to think of the memory is to think of human muscles. Each time your elder (or anyone, really) learns something new, they build upon their memory muscles. However, if you’ve ever worked out, then you know you won’t see progress overnight. It takes a lot of time and routine to build the memory muscles to be strong.
If the new skill, talent, or piece of knowledge isn’t used routinely then it fades; the muscles weaken.
That’s why routine is important!
Where many family caregivers get frustrated is, they don’t see the progress and want to quit. The challenge when you have an elder with dementia is that their muscles are weakening as they’re strengthening.
So, for instance, unlike exercising muscles, the memory for dementia elders needs to be exercised every single day.
Knowing When to Get More Help
About a year ago, we were visited by a family whose 94-year-old senior began to suffer from dementia. The family members that lived closest to her tried to take care of her by themselves, but as their elder with dementia progressed to a more advanced stage, they found that they were outmatched and overwhelmed by responsibilities.
The senior lived in Shoreline, Washington, but the families were further away. The eldest daughter grew concerned about her mother and saw that her condition was worsening; she was not getting the memory care she needed. As a result, she called our senior housing placement agency and asked us to find a new home for her mother as soon as possible.
We helped the family every step of the way. We met at a local coffee shop and talked about budgets, needs, and luxuries – some amenities that would be nice to have. They had a strict budget and wanted to make absolutely certain their mother would receive quality memory care. The community would need help with bathing, cleaning, and it would be nice if they had numerous activities to keep their elder engaged.
It wasn’t long before we found a memory care center that the mother and the family considered the perfect match.
At some point, you may hit that roadblock. You may feel that there’s nothing more you can do for your elder with dementia. If and when that happens, call us, we’ll be there to help you every step of the way, post-haste!