Caregiving is one of the toughest nuts to crack, especially, if it entails taking care of the super mom who you’ve always seen taking care of you. Besides the emotional setback of accepting that your mother is diagnosed with dementia, the physical and mental stress mounts quickly.
A 2008 survey revealed that 17% of the caregivers reported that their physical health had plummeted after taking over the caregiving activities. Moreover, their health only deteriorated as time passed. Caregivers confessed that their health declined by roughly 14% within the first year of caregiving. This figure shot to 20% after five years of providing care.
Even if you have compromised with your mother’s diagnosis, which is a far cry from the reality, the next step of dealing with your sick parent can be extremely challenging. It is because this neurodegenerative disorder, common among 1 in 3 seniors, is unlike other ailments.
It takes a toll on your parent’s memory and behavior. Hence, you are left with the worry that by any moment, your mother may forget you. Not to mention, the agitated behavior can turn to aggressiveness at any point, adding to the stress.
While there’s no silver bullet to ensure that your caregiving efforts are perfect, some care tips can help ease the process. Mentioned below are some helpful tips for taking care of your ailing mom:
1. Allow the emotions to settle
Before you go about providing care to your mother, make peace with your feelings. Waves of sadness, anxiety, grief, and anger are all commonplace. Such sentiments affect all the folks who are in a similar boat such as you. Sweeping your feelings under the rug won’t help though.
Give yourself space and time to grief. Psychology Today says that learning about a loved one’s dementia diagnosis can be hard on the caregiver. It is even harder for adult children who are prone to seeing their parents as strong human beings who constantly care and worry about them. As this ailment strikes, the roles are switched, which welcomes melancholic feelings.
2. Learn about your parent’s preferences
Try to communicate with your parent. This aspect highly depends on how far your mother has come along in her sickness. In the early stages of dementia, when a Braintest review reveals that your parent’s cognition is going down, your parent is still in a good position to communicate.
At this point, you can ask for your parent’s preference and chalk out an action plan for caregiving. For instance, learn if your mother wants you to take care of her or some other family member. Ask her about the option of care service providers and whether she would be comfortable with a nursing aide.
3. Communicate in a simple manner
If your parent experiences troubles in understanding you, adopt a very simplistic approach while communicating. Even if your mother attempts to understand you now, she will not as the disease wreaks havoc on her brain. Be prepared for this stage and arm yourself with simple communication skills.
To this end, use short sentences while talking and ask simple questions. For instance, the Family Caregiver Alliance says ask questions such as “Would you like to wear your white shirt or your blue shirt?” You can also give visual cues and prompts to get a clear response.
Avoid any distractions during your conversation so that your mother can understand you her best. Also, avoid open-ended questions or giving multiple preferences. An essential tip is to keep any power struggles at bay. Forcing, pushing your parent, or issuing ultimatums will seriously damage your relationship.
4. Dealing with the confusion of time and place
A common effect of dementia on its patient is planting seeds of confusion. The patient feels disoriented and is unable to remember where she is or what is happening around her. Consequently, lots of individuals with the psychiatric ailment end up wandering.
Statistics show that 6 in 10 people with dementia wander. In such a case, it becomes tough to react, particularly, if your parent adamantly repeats that she’s not at home or she wants to go home. The best way to deal with this is not to argue or give long explanations. You can also redirect your mother, for example, by taking her to a walk or so.
5. Draft a schedule
Patients with dementia have a hard time when things happen out of context or in an unpredictable manner. The ongoing memory loss and decline in other areas of cognition disturb the patient. On top of that, anything that occurs out of the blue unnerves them.
In this context, set up a schedule for your mom and keep it that way without moving things around. This can add to your stresses, particularly, if you are a job-oriented person. But, if you try to reschedule things, for instance, timing a bath for later on, then it would confuse your mother, leaving her in a muddle. So, stick with a timetable so that your parent can become familiar with her routine.
6. Remove harmful items
As you look after your parent, you will realize that the two of you have switched your role. So, if you can recall your childhood, you will remember that your parent kept all sorts of harmful objects out of your way. You have now got to return the deed.
Remove any knives, matches, car keys or the like. All these things are your responsibility now. As a dementia patient, your mother can also wake up in the middle of the night to go to the washroom. Any things in her path, such as a flower pot, can be dangerous. Your mother can hit the pot or even mistake it for the toilet seat.
7. Seek technological aids
As per Pew Research, nearly 72% of the caregivers already rely on the online wealth of information that the internet provides. Additionally, 52% of the people engage in online social activity concerning health as well. So, we’re already using tech to assist us in one way or another.
You can also get more technological assistance while caring for your ailing mom. Use GPS monitoring to keep tabs on your parent’s location when you are not at home. You can also set medication reminders with the help of different apps.
8. Take care of yourself
Caregiving can be energy-draining, which is why you shouldn’t put personal care to the backburner. It’s like they instruct on a flight, put on your oxygen mask first before helping others. Similarly, take care of your health before taking care of your parent’s health.
In this regard, make some time for yourself. Talk to people who understand your situation or have been in the same or similar circumstances. Seek help if you can’t handle the burden of caregiving. If you are having problems with managing your emotions or mental health, don’t hesitate in seeking professional help.
Research agrees that the caregiving stress can leave its negative imprint on your mental well-being. On top of that, dementia can completely change the mother you knew as her brain cells begin to die gradually. Therefore, it’s best to be patient with your ailing mom. Don’t forget to take care of yourself so that you have the energy to look after her.