Dementia suffers face many challenges in their daily lives and perhaps one of the hardest difficulties to manage is change. Dementia causes confusion and forgetfulness so that any changes – even apparently fairly minor ones – can have a disproportionately devastating effect on the individual who is struggling to cope with the symptoms of dementia.
Positive reinforcement helps the brain to maintain its ability to recall information. Familiar surroundings create an environment in which positive reinforcement happens multiple times per hour, from correctly selecting the drawer with the spoons in it to remembering the names of visitors it is important to keep changes to a minimum.
As your loved one gets older they may find it harder to keep on top of the housework or garden. Whilst you may be able to take over some of the cleaning or mowing you may need to bring in outside help. If possible instruct self-employed tradespeople that you know and trust so your relative can be sure of seeing the same person each time a visit is due.
As their condition worsens, and you start to need personal care, it can be extremely helpful to have the same homecare helper so that they can recognise them and the caregiver can become familiar with your loved one’s likes and dislikes.
Predicting the future
One-to-one care allows the caregiver to really get to know the person they are caring for. Dementia affects people in different ways and it is important that caregivers can learn the ways in which it has affected a given individual. Once the sufferer has reached the point of needing round-the-clock care a live in care assistant is a good choice as they can familiarise themselves with their client and pre-empt accidents, keeping your relative safe and well.
Familiar faces provide a friendly and informal atmosphere which can improve the mood of the person suffering from dementia. Changes can cause anxiety which, in turn, can lead to feelings of frustration and depression. Even if the person suffering with dementia doesn’t appear to recognise a face they may well respond more positively to someone they have recognised in the past than someone who is totally unfamiliar to them.
Going into hospital or a care home
If your relative needs to be admitted to hospital, or if you choose to place them in a care home, they will encounter many new faces and will have to adapt to a new routine. This can place a lot of strain on them and can cause their condition to worsen.
If possible, ask that your relative receives a named nurse or carer and provide them with a list of your loved one’s likes and dislikes, such as whether they prefer to be addressed formally, if their tea should be served with milk and sugar and whether they prefer to bath or shower. As a familiar face yourself it is important that you visit as often as you can to reassure your relative that all is well.