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Families can face many challenges keeping loved ones with dementia safe.
The first challenge is often a lack of education and understanding about dementia and how to prepare for what lies ahead. Family caregivers have to navigate this confusing new world while experiencing the heartbreak of having a family member who is slowing losing awareness of their surroundings and the memory of their own loved ones. This anguish exists in parallel with increasing frustrations on the part of the family member who cannot cope with their own deteriorating condition.
Making the Home Safe
There are many dangers that face dementia sufferers in the home as they begin losing awareness of their current surroundings. Caregivers must pay attention to the physical environment of the home and take steps to minimize hazards. Common safety precautions include:
- Do not leave your family member alone at any time.
- Install door chimes so you know when a door is being opened.
- Remove all sharp objects from drawers or cabinets.
- Prevent your family member from having access to any type of vehicle.
- Monitor access to stovetop burners or other sources of high heat or flame.
There are also technological options available that can help families keep track of loved ones with dementia. These include inexpensive sensor systems that are easy to install and help family members keep track of the movements of loved ones suffering from dementia.
Caregivers must learn to how cope with these heartbreaking changes in their loved ones with compassion, consideration and understanding. For their own safety, they must also learn to navigate the mood swings and irritational behavior. People with early dementia will often react much more aggressively if continually quizzed about what is wrong or reminded of their loss of memory, their surroundings, or their current or recent experiences.
Take care not to agitate them, and under no circumstances should you try to confine your family member or restrict them to a small room or area. This can create rash outbursts and anger that may be detrimental to you, your family member with dementia or other members of your household.
Education for Caregivers
Caregivers face so many questions when learning to deal with a family member who suffers from dementia. What are the care options? Should I try and manage care for my loved one myself or bring in outside help? How do I juggle my work, family, marital, social and other relationships to give my loved one the real attention he or she needs when coping with dementia?
The Alzheimer’s Association provides excellent training and resources for family members trying to cope with or learn more about those with a form of early dementia such as Alzheimer’s. Many leading home care and home health companies will provide additional local resources or caregiver support groups to help the family members cope with the heartbreak of dementia.
In addition, it is vital for the caregiver not to become depressed, demoralized or experience degenerating physical health because of the strain of caring for a family member with dementia. Caregivers have to take care of themselves, too, by seeking times of respite and taking breaks by turning over the caregiver role to another family member or qualified outside services.
Always remember that the foundation of learning how to care for a family member with dementia is by talking to others who have experienced this challenge. You are not alone and can learn from others who have been similar scenarios. Become better educated as to what to expect and how to best serve your family member right from the start.
April 29, 2019 at 02:18PM
Forbes – Entrepreneurs