Written by Active Minds on Friday the 11th of September 2015.
On Sunday 13th September 2015, over 800,000 Dementia carers will get together in sharing what it means to care for a loved one with Alzheimer’s. The day provides a great opportunity to connect with other informal carers in your local community and share the special moments that can make dementia care so rewarding. To celebrate National Dementia Carers Day, the team here at Active Minds has put together a few tips for those who are just embarking on this challenging journey.
Sometimes accepting help can be difficult, especially if you have cared for your relative prior to a diagnosis. While you may be coping well now, dementia can become increasingly worse over time so it’s important to ask for help as soon as possible so that you don’t become overwhelmed in the future. Ensure you have someone you can talk to openly about the challenges you face on a daily basis and put a care plan in place with a professional. As an informal carer, you may be entitled to financial support in the form of benefits or subsidies. You can find out more from the sponsors of National Dementia Carers Day, The Alzheimer’s Society, and Dementia UK.
As a carer you shouldn’t feel guilty about taking time off. Remember, you won’t be able to give effective care if you are ill or stressed yourself. Taking time off to relax and catch up with your life will help you to refresh and actually improve the standard of care you’re providing to your loved one. Think about when your patient is the most relaxed and take the opportunity to go for a walk, read, or call a friend.
Caring for someone living with dementia can be physically demanding so try not to forget how capable your loved one may still be. Ask them to dress themselves for as long as possible and only start to make changes in their routine when you feel they need a rest. Regular mental stimulation can be positive for the both of you so try to schedule in some art activities, puzzles, and games. Dementia activity products are a great way to encourage conversation and create special moments and memories for the future.
As a carer you’re bound to have some bad days. When you’re tired, stressed, and nothing is going to plan try and be as patient as you can. Remember that Dementia is a confusing and sometimes physically painful condition. Try to stay flexible when scheduling bathing and exercise, and don’t take it personally if your help is not always wanted; you’re not the only one that might want some alone time.