In Singapore, one in 10 seniors aged 60 and above has dementia. By 2030, this will rise to one in five. Meanwhile, more people will become caregivers. It is normal to feel distressed or lost as a new caregiver of someone with dementia, especially when the symptoms are serious.
What Is Dementia?
It is a brain disorder that is characterised by progressive worsening of memory and cognitive functioning, orientation, and personality.
Read more about dementia: https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/dementia
Your loved one has just been diagnosed with dementia, and you may need time to get used to performing a new, unfamiliar role as a caregiver. You may feel lost, stressed, worried, or frustrated. Deal with your emotions at your own pace until you can accept the diagnosis.
In order to support your loved one, it is good to understand the progression of dementia and its associated challenges.
The early stage of dementia is where the patient suffers the first failures of memory and concentration. Their only means of sharing their likes and dislikes may be through shouting or lashing out. Understanding the condition may help in reducing the occurrence of challenging behaviour.
They likely still can perform daily tasks, such as eating, showering, and dressing. However, they may need help with regards to planning matters, remembering names, managing medications, and managing finances.
As a caregiver, you can support your loved one while letting them be independent in daily living for as long as possible. You can discuss and find a balance with your loved one.
You can also continue to help them live well. Encourage them to keep their body and mind healthy through exercising and having a balanced diet.
This is also a good time to plan for the future together on financial and legal matters, and long-term care arrangements, so that you can have peace of mind.
Most importantly, you should take care of yourself. Taking care of someone with dementia can be a long, arduous journey. People with dementia can spend years in the early stage. While you should enjoy your time with your loved one, you should also save time for yourself.
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In the middle stage, more nerve cells in the brain get damaged, and your loved one’s condition will worsen. Daily tasks such as showering and dressing may be confusing for them. They may be physically able but may have forgotten how to perform these activities. Your loved one may not remember things that happened recently and may lose track of time and have sleep problems.
Often, you will need to take on greater responsibilities to support your loved one, such as making decisions for them and providing physical care. Consider developing daily routines that you may adjust as their dementia progresses. Setting a routine may help your loved one feel more secure, provide a source of focus, and build a sense of productivity.
Caring for a family member with dementia but need professional help? Learn more about Jaga-Me’s Dementia Day and Home Care Services.
Make sure to vary their activities such as introducing games, music and art and crafts to stimulate their mind.
Another thing to note is to simplify your communication with them. As their dementia gets worse, your loved one may find it hard to process information. Hence, you should be patient and use simple words and sentences. Instead of asking open-ended questions, try giving two options. For example, rather than asking what they would like for breakfast, try asking whether they would like porridge or toast.
As your caregiving responsibilities become more physically and emotionally tiring, you may want to join a support group to interact with other caregivers and gain tips.
Read more about dementia: https://www.healthhub.sg/live-healthy/679/yourguidetounderstandingdementia_pdf
Typically, dementia patients have complete loss of memory and judgment in this stage. Your loved one may spend a few weeks to several years in the late stage.
At this stage, your loved one is likely to be totally dependent on you for their daily activities. You may notice that your loved one will need help with walking or getting out of bed. Hence, you may need to do a lot of lifting.
Moreover, they will struggle with eating and swallowing. You may need to switch to soft foods and spoon feed them.
While you are caring for your loved one, do not forget to take care of yourself. It is common for caregivers to feel stressed and even burnt out at this stage. Find time to stay active and meditate, catch up with friends, and get enough rest.
Since your loved one needs constant, intensive physical care, it may be a good idea to seek additional support. Engaging a home care service can lighten your caregiving load. JagaMe’s home care service allows families to keep their loved one close by and ensure that they receive quality medical care in the comfort of their home.
Leave your loved one in our safe hands.
Every dementia patient will experience its symptoms differently and will need personalised care. JagaMe’s team of well-trained nurses will provide personal and dedicated home nursing care for your loved one.
Ultimately, caring for someone with dementia may not be easy, but with the right support, your loved one can feel well-taken care of at every stage of the disease. After all, your caregiving journey is a marathon, not a sprint. Your love and care will see you through.
Read more about caring for a loved one with dementia: https://www.healthhub.sg/live-healthy/1858/my-loved-one-has-dementia–what-do-i-do