Essential Skills For A Dementia Caregiver

Caring for a loved one with dementia is not easy and requires a lot of energy, sacrifice, and time. The objective of caregiving dementia patients is to make sure that they have the comfort, love, and necessities they need because these patients will require a lot as they have high needs.   

If you are an adult child of a parent that was just diagnosed with dementia that has agreed to take on the caregiving role, you will want to make sure that your parent receives the best care. This is why you will need to have these 6 essential skills to be an effective caregiverOpens in a new tab. to your parent or grandparent.

Plenty Of Endurance 

Dementia does progress over time and this means that new challenges will emerge as the disease progresses. This means that the caregiver must be prepared to not only learn new skills when new behaviors do emerge but to be prepared to both physically as well as emotionally manage the stress that comes with dementia.  

For instance, if the newly diagnosed dementia patient still is able to bathe and dress independently, eventually the patient will not be able to do either. This means the caregiver must be able to handle the task of dressing and bathing the patient on a daily basis. Additionally, the patient can potentially display behaviorsOpens in a new tab. that can be violent which means the caregiver will need to handle that as well if it comes up.  

Patience Is Essential 

In addition to endurance, caregivers to dementia patients must be very patient when it comes to caregiving. The memory loss that is associated with dementia is difficult for caregivers as they will constantly need to remind these patients things that they were just told recently. Additionally, the behavioral changes that occur with the disease can also be a source of frustration for caregivers.  

For instance, the dementia sufferer may refuse to eat lunch and the caregiver will need to be patient when this type of situation occurs. This type of situation will be expanded on in the next point.  

Creativity And Being Strategic 

When you are caring for a dementia patient, an essential skillOpens in a new tab. to have is creativity and being strategic. This means each time a new behavior emerges as the disease progresses, there needs to be new techniques put in place in order to manage each one. This will help reduce caregiver stress and to help keep the patient comfortable.  

Going back to the example of the dementia patient not eating lunch because of refusing to do so, there are ways to get the patient to eat. Making the food appear and smell more appealing is one way, and another way is to find a calmer environment to serve the patient lunch. Sometimes the patient will be willing to eat if you place one of his or her belongings on the table which can provide plenty of comforts.  

Be As Knowledgable As Possible 

Not all dementia caregivers are familiar with the disease which often applies to adult children that are caring for their parents who have been recently diagnosed with the disease. The best thing for caregivers to do when they are taking care of a patient with the condition is to find out everything they can about dementia.  

That means to consult with doctors, psychologists, and other professionals that can be helpful. Talk to others who have had experience with dementia care as well. Find out as well about the up to date research that has been conducted on the condition so you are aware of any types of therapies or treatments that have been known to be effective for patients.  

Being knowledgable about the condition will also help you with being patient and developing the endurance to take on the challenges that dementia presents.  

Learn How To Communicate Ethically With People With Dementia 

One of the challenges that caregivers face with patients that have dementia is communicating effectively.Opens in a new tab. Patients with the condition have a difficult time expressing their thoughts and emotions, they lose their train of thought on what they are saying, and oftentimes they repeat themselves.  

That means as frustrating as it may be for caregivers, it is important that they remain composed as much as possible when they are talking to the patients. Take a few moments to calm down beforehand before talking to the patient. And be sure to be focused and clear on what you are saying to the patient so that he or she has a better chance of being receptive.  

It is also highly important to maintain eye contact and be at the same level as the patient. If the patient is sitting down, then have a seat when you are talking. However, do not stand or sit too close to the patient as that can intimidate him or her.  

Additionally, when you are speaking to the patient, be sure to remove distractions or keep them to a minimum such as turning the volume of the radio or television down. if you can communicate well with the patient where he or she is listening to you, then that alone can make the caregiving job somewhat simpler.  

Being Honest With Yourself Is The Best Policy 

Caregiving is stressful and highly demanding, and not everyone is cut out for the jobOpens in a new tab.. Being a good caregiver also means that you are honest with yourself by acknowledging that you cannot physically do the job. You will want to keep looking out for the patient’s wellbeing and that means to find reputable caregivers from organizations such as the Dementia Society of AmericaOpens in a new tab. or the Alzheimer’s Foundation.  

If you are unable to physically help the patient, then you will want to tap into the resources around by making sure that the patient is getting the very best from professional caregivers that are trained to work with and manage patients that have the condition. 

Attempting to do a job you cannot do will only lead to resentment, anger, extreme frustration, and burnout which will not be good for the caregiver as well as the care recipient.  

Alternatively, if you feel you can handle the job, then be sure to seek respite care so you can  

Being an effective caregiver to a dementia patient requires those skills so that the care recipient is able to get the best care and comfort and have his or her needs met on a daily basis.  

For more information, check out the Caregiver Training video series by UCLA below:


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