Caring for Someone with Dementia

Caring for someone with dementia is a journey that requires immense compassion, patience, and resilience. Dementia not only affects memory but also brings about a range of behavioural changes that can be disorienting and sometimes distressing for both the individual and their caregivers. Understanding these changes and learning how to provide proper care while ensuring their safety is crucial.

If you are caring for a loved one with dementia or seeking to become a dementia carer, here are our tips and advice to navigate these challenges with compassion and effectiveness.

Dealing with behavioural changes

As the condition progresses, you may notice changes in a person’s behaviour when caring for someone with dementia. These can include:

    • Sleep disturbances

    • Repeating questions or activities

    • Restlessness, pacing, fidgeting

    • Agitation and aggression

    • Being withdrawn or less interested in their usual activities

    • Following a partner or caregiver around the house

The changes can be a natural progression of the condition, but also sometimes due to unmet needs, as the symptoms of dementia make it more challenging to communicate. It is important to consult your healthcare practitioner to identify any medical needs, and also to try and identify any triggers for these changes. Rachael Searle, a Trainer at Abbots Care specialising in Dementia talks about the importance of stepping into their world to begin to understand their perspective and needs.

‘’I have always seen caring for individuals living with dementia as a real honour. I have learnt that for us all to become better care partners, we need to change our perception of those we care for by stepping into their perspective of the world, rather than our own. It is only then that we can begin to understand their behaviours and learn how to work alongside individuals as their care partners and make a real positive difference in their dementia journey and quality of life. In my book there is no better privilege or reward than that. ‘’

Some common needs that can correspond to these behavioural changes include:

Physical needs

A person with dementia might display challenging behaviour if they have a physical need that they aren’t able to express. Consider the following when caring for someone with dementia:

    • What is the temperature of the room? If they are feeling too hot, they might attempt to remove clothing inappropriately

    • How noisy is the room they are in? Is the TV on too loud? How is the lighting?

    • Are they comfortable? Are they sitting in the same position all day? Do they need to be moved around? Sometimes an extra cushion is all that is needed

    • How is their physical health? Are they able to communicate that they need the toilet? Do they have any infections or injuries? Are they on any new medication?

    • Is their environment welcoming? Having their favourite items or familiar pictures nearby can provide comfort

    • If they receive care from different people, are they aware of their preferences? Creating a list of things they like and displaying it in a prominent position, such as a sugar in their tea, can make all the difference

    • Have they had their eyes tested recently? If they have a hearing aid, is it working?

    • If the person is frail, get support from an Occupational Therapist or healthcare practitioner on techniques to move them safely, to avoid injuries to your loved on or yourself

    • Physical exercise, fresh air and sunlight can help a person’s sleep, health and wellbeing. A short walk or sitting near the window can be highly beneficial when caring for someone with dementia

Social wellbeing

A person living with dementia might feel bored and isolated, as they aren’t receiving the social stimulation of going to work and engaging in the activities they used to do. When caring for someone with dementia, support for their social wellbeing can include:

    • Establishing a daily routine that enhances their independence – whilst they may need a lot of assistance, empowering them to do the things they are still able to do can boost self-esteem

    • Support your loved one with social contact – this could be something as simple as a walk to the end of the road if they are able, or a phone call from a friend

    • Pets can be a huge source of comfort and companionship for those experiencing isolation

    • Support through live-in care and home care can take the pressure off you and provide not just physical, but also social support

Mental and emotional needs

Experiencing dementia can be frustrating, scary and confusing. They might misunderstand things and experience life in a very different way to you and to how their life was previously. Some people might experience delusions or hallucinations, which can add to their distress. When caring for someone with dementia, some things you can do to meet your loved ones mental and emotional needs include:

    • Help them to engage in meaningful activities throughout their day. Studies show that music can stimulate cognition and improve memory for people experiencing dementia. Supporting them to engage in their hobbies, even if in a small way, or creating a memory box can aid a person’s connection and be very soothing.

    • Listening to the person without judgement, using simple and clear language, maintaining eye contact and being patient in communication makes all the difference. Non-verbal cues like touch and facial expressions can also help convey your message.

    • When caring for someone with dementia, use reassurance and keep things simple. whilst they might not be able to do many of the things they could before, if they can see a friend for just half an hour or help you with a small chore, it can add to their sense of purpose

Get support when caring for someone with dementia

Caring for someone with dementia can be an immense challenge, and often those in a position of providing care for a loved one find themselves at risk of burnout. No one can pour from an empty cup, which is why making time for yourself to recuperate is essential for both you and for the person in your care.

Opening yourself to receiving support from friends, family or professionals can ease the load – caring for someone with dementia doesn’t have to be alone. Abbots know how difficult it can be, therefore have organised Dementia Awareness Workshops across the Hertfordshire. These workshops provide support for families and the community, as well as allowing a space to meet with families and friends of those living with dementia.

At Abbots Care, we are committed to providing exceptional care to people with dementia that ensures their happiness, comfort, dignity and peace of mind. We provide care visits from 15 mins a day, to 24-hour support with live in care and respite services. Care at home has been shown to lower stress levels, as your loved one can receive support in a familiar environment.

If you are caring for someone with dementia, we’ll work with you to put together the best care plan for your loved one. For more information on how our dementia care can support you, get in touch.