When a senior you love is diagnosed with dementia, there are a lot of difficult decisions that have to be made. One of the hard choices is figuring out where they should reside. While memory care centers are available, some would rather their loved ones stay with them. In fact, millions of Americans choose to be unpaid caregivers. But is that really for the best? Read on for more information on living with a senior who has dementia.
Do you think living with loved ones will ultimately be the most beneficial for the senior with dementia?
There certainly are some advantages for them and for you as a caregiver. Having someone you love with you can certainly bring you both joy. You’re already established and familiar connection can make them feel more at ease. And speaking about the past and special memories with them can also help.
What do you need to learn to become a caregiver?
If not taken care of properly, senior dementia can be extremely difficult for everyone. However, this disease is also not unmanageable. If you really want your loved one to live with you, then you will have to be sure you are able to handle the challenges.
You will have to educate yourself on dementia. The advantage of a memory care center is, of course, that the staff are all certified, trained, and experienced experts.
Part of educating yourself will be learning how to best communicate with a person who has dementia. You don’t want to just speak to them as if nothing’s wrong. But talking down to them or treating them like a child will be hurtful to them. There are different recommended techniques for this type of communication. You will also have to
create a routine and stick to it. Sudden changes and a lack of order can confuse people and make them incredibly upset. It’s up to you as a caregiver to minimize surprises as much as possible.
Medication management is incredibly important. You don’t want to miss a dose or mix up medications. This is one of the many ways you will need to be extremely organized and alert if you’re taking care of a senior with dementia.
Something too many can overlook is how important it is to keep seniors with dementia active. Being too sedentary will lead to physical pains. And exercise, even a short walk, can greatly improve mood. Memory care programs make sure to keep residents active in a number of different ways that will be enjoyable for them in addition to keeping them healthy.
While there are benefits, keep in mind that being a caregiver for a loved one will come with plenty of upsetting challenges.
When a senior has dementia, they can experience periods of intense emotions. This can include anger, agitation, anxiety, and depression. There are also some medical and physical issues that can be upsetting.
Seniors with dementia are prone to wandering, so you will need to be sure you live in a secure environment and can find them easily if that happens. This is one of the advantages of a memory care or assisted living center. They have a high level of security 24 hours a day and are very equipped to prevent seniors from wandering.
What are the in-between options for additional help?
If you do decide to live with your loved one, make sure you have plenty of support. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. This can include other family members, loved ones, and friends lending a hand. There are also caregiver support groups and resources. In addition to solidarity, these support groups and resources can also help you learn how to become a better caregiver for your senior loved one with dementia.
Another option to keep in mind for seniors with dementia is a respite care program. Respite care is used for a number of different reasons. In some cases, it is to give loved ones a break from caretaking. After all, you can’t take care of others if you don’t take care of yourself. Respite care is also available if a caregiver will be away for some reason. Sometimes, people enter respite care when recovering from a medical procedure, illness, or other incident for which they need extra care. Finally, it can also serve as a trial run for what life in a memory care center would be like. If you’re not sure whether that’s the best option for your loved one, respite care might be the way to find out.
How do you know when the best solution for your loved one changes?
The best option for a senior with dementia also depends on the stage of their disease. If, unfortunately, they take a turn for the worse, you may not be able to take care of them anymore. This might mean more respite care stays, additional in-home care, or moving to a memory care community permanently. Be sure to monitor the state of the disease closely to decide on the best solution.
There are some signs to look out for. One is if your loved one becomes too aggressive or difficult for you to handle. Another is if they experience “sundowning.” This is the term for when a senior with dementia has much worse symptoms at night. In a lot of cases, this is best for a trained professional to handle in a well-monitored memory care center.
If you decide a memory care program is the best solution or want to learn more about them, don’t hesitate to contact us at the Mission at Agua Fria. We have a thoughtfully designed memory care program for seniors with dementia, proven to improve cognitive function. Our program includes elements such as music and art therapy, sensory integration, and exercise. And our private apartments will feel like home. You can find more information on the Mission at Agua Fria and even schedule a visit to meet with us on our website.