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Stressed! Overworked! Don't Understand!

Updated: Feb 11, 2022

Does this picture look familiar? Many caregivers are experiencing stress, tiredness, and frustration because of the hard work that goes along with providing care for someone who is suffering from dementia. I would like to share are a few helpful tips that will be useful in handling various behaviors when upset, stressed, or frustrated. In order to provide the best dementia care, a person needs to understand dementia. Dementia is defined as a group of symptoms that let you know, Uh Oh, there is a problem in the brain. These signs/symptoms can be:

  1. Difficulty remembering recent events

  2. Misplacing things

  3. Social or work withdrawal

  4. Problem solving and planning challenges

In some cases, the problem could be a disease such as Alzheimer's disease, or Vascular dementia. These are the two common forms of dementia. If you are providing care in your home for a loved one who is suffering from dementia and you become stressed, upset, or over whelmed while providing care, here are a few suggestive tips :

  • First, Stop, take deep breaths, and walk away from the situation for a few minutes.

Have you heard the Bible verse, "Be angry and sin not." It is alright to get angry by don't do wrong as a result of it. Following the instructions in the first sentence will give you time to calm down and gather your thoughts. Never provide care for your loved who is suffering from dementia when you are frustrated, stressed, or upset. This can increase the magnitude of the behavior, or cause unnecessary harm to your loved one.

  • Second, Re-Evaluate the situation.

Often times, the behaviors that occur in someone who suffer from dementia can be the result of confusion, fear, agitation, tiredness, hunger, or pain. As a Geriatric Consultant, I often educate caregivers on the importance of getting to know your loved one where they are now. As dementia progresses, it can change a person to a certain extent. The hobbies, or routines that your loved one use to do may not be interesting anymore. It could also be difficult to complete the task. Ask yourself these questions when a behavior occurs that causes you to become angry, frustrated, or stressed. What occurred before or during this behavior? How can I address this need?

  • Third, Fix the situation.

There can be many solutions to behaviors that are associated with dementia. As a caregiver, it is imperative for you to really know your loved one and pay close attention to them. Let me give you an example of fixing the situation. "Mom does not want to take a bath. Every time we go in the bathroom to take a bath, she gets angry and will not cooperate." Have you considered the lightning in the bathroom is not bright enough, or the temperature could be to cold? Have you thought about your loved one not wanting to be exposed?

Tip #1 First, take some nice smelling lotion and perfume/cologne in the bathroom. (Keeping older adults skin moist is imperative to prevent skin cracks etc.) Make sure the shower or bath water is nice and warm. Always cover the person to give a sense of privacy. As people age, they get colder faster than others. It would be helpful to have warm towels and rags available for you to assist your loved one with bathing. Did you notice that I used the word assist? Allow the person to be independent for as long as possible. By doing this, it could also decrease on agitation, and other behaviors during this time.

Tip # 2 Have some soft relaxing music playing

Tip # 3 Utilize this time to reminisce about happy memories

Tip # 4 After drying your loved one off and if the person is able, guide them on how to put the lotion on. You may be able to use yourself as a guide. If the person is unable to put the lotion on, Ask if it is alright for you to put lotion on their arms, legs, etc. Ask a question, what does this lotion, perfume/cologne smell like? This is good aromatherapy for your loved one.

(Written by Tamaria Smith-Gillespie)

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