How to Help Someone with Dementia
June 12 2020
How to Help a Person with Dementia Who Refuses to Accept Help
In the world, at least 50 million people live with dementia, and at least ten million new cases are diagnosed every year. Such disappointing statistics turn it into a global issue that needs attention.
A diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease dramatically changes the life of both the person himself and his family members and friends, but information and support are available to everyone. No one should deal with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia alone.
We have collected the best tips on how to help a person with dementia. Continue reading to find out more!
How to Identify That a Person Needs Help
Setting a diagnosis is the doctor’s task. But you may suspect that your loved one has signs of dementia if you notice that he or she:
- often loses essential things or puts them in strange places
- often asks questions again, forgetting the answer that was just received
- confuses time or is lost in a familiar place
- experiences difficulties with concentration and is mistaken in monetary calculations
- cannot learn simple instructions – for example, how to turn on the washing machine or microwave
There are other signs of dementia: for example, if a person suddenly changes in character, behavior, or has mood swings for no reason. Already in the early stages of Alzheimer’s, an active person may suddenly become apathetic, lose any initiative, and stop enjoying even their favorite activities.
Later, as dementia progresses, some patients become irritable, impatient, or impulsive; others become restless and even aggressive. A person can have delusional thoughts (for example, that neighbors are stalking him or stealing his things). Disruption of the brain processes leads to the fact that their behavior ceases to be conscious. The patient does not recognize his relatives and gradually loses the ability to understand speech.
So, what to do with elderly parents that need help?
How to Motivate a Person to Do a Medical Check-Up
It is vital to consult a doctor as soon as possible. Healthcare providers emphasize that early diagnosis can extend the years of a fulfilling life. Unfortunately, many people seek help too late, when the few medications that could slow the development of dementia and improve their health condition no longer work.
The common reasons for denying help among dementia patients are:
- Lack of understanding of their condition
- The feeling of being forced into something
- Denial of health issues due to fear of diagnosis
- Genuine disbelief in the severity of their case
Unfortunately, there is no universal guide on how to help elderly parents who don’t want help. People are all different: for some, experiencing the fear of getting lost on a familiar street is enough, and someone is happy to check their health with their spouse. It is necessary to show understanding and, if possible, not to deceive your loved one, because the doctor at the reception will need consent for the examination. The sooner you manage to convince the patient to start treatment, the less likely the condition will get out of control.
If a parent with dementia refuses help, you must be extremely careful and gentle in how you suggest a visit to the doctor. Remember to choose the approach while taking into consideration the mental condition of the person and their personal traits. Here are some tips on how to convince a person to seek medical treatment:
- Life examples- Try coming up with real-life examples related to a similar problem. Speak of how other people received professional help and felt better.
- Confidence- Talk about it as a settled case: “I am sure that when you visit the doctor, we will find a way to solve it.”
- Appropriate reading- Offer a person texts on his problem and try to point out the matching symptoms. There is a chance that the person will decide to go for a medical check-up since there is a lot of evidence of possible issues.
- Friendly advice- Try to ask a friend or relative to discuss this matter with your loved one. Sometimes people are more prone to listen to the opinion of someone other than their primary caregiver.
- Seize the chance- If the person mentions that it has been hard to remember things lately, attempt suggesting a check-up in a friendly manner. You can say that there are medications that the doctor can prescribe if he finds it necessary.
- Personal favor-You can try asking your loved one to visit the doctor as a personal favor to you.
- Alternative reasoning-Schedule the physician’s appointment based on a different health concern. Remember to call the doctor in advance and suggest a memory screening.
If nothing works and the person is becoming a danger to himself and the loved ones, you may need to contact Protective Services.
Ways to Help Dementia Parents
It is challenging for any person to admit an impairment of mental functions. In many patients, an insufficient realization of their condition is a manifesting symptom of the disease. Therefore, people often refuse to go to the doctor.
It might be challenging to convinсe a person with signs of dementia to visit a doctor. It can be especially heartbreaking to see the person you love change so much if it is your close relative or parent. However, when the diagnosis is evident, the crucial part will be accomplished. After that, the next step is therapy and proper care.
For a person with dementia, the safety issue is critical. Your parent may leave the house and forget to close the doors and windows or, conversely, shut the door without taking the key. The patient may not recognize faces well and could let a stranger into the house.
It is vital to ensure that your parent or loved one is in a safe environment. Here are some tips on how to prepare the house to help with dementia care:
- Hide potentially hazardous substances (medicines, cleaning products).
- Ensure there is good lighting in the house, and do not keep wires and sliding rugs on the floor to prevent the person from falling.
- If there is a gas stove at home, you need to make sure that it turns off its supply if your loved one forgets to light a fire.
- Fix the furniture, and think about installing handrails in the bathroom and toilet.
- Provide a designated area for everyday items. It is better to place things in one place long before the onset of severe memory disorders, developing the habit of looking for them there.
- Since there is a hazard that your parent may get locked up in a room, it is better to remove the locks from the doors where possible.
- Make sure wiring and household appliances are safe, and it is impossible to transfer them, for example, to the bathroom.
Unfortunately, from a certain point on, these measures can no longer be sufficient: it will be necessary for someone to look after your loved one around the clock. But what if the person refuses care? Are there ways to convince a dementia patient to accept help? Read on to find out.
How to Help Elderly Parents Who Don’t Want Help
Seeing the person refuse essential help is hard. However, as a caretaker, you should be patient with your loved one who is suffering from dementia. There are several main aspects in which helpers encounter problems when offering assistance.
Personal hygiene is something that we keep private. It is often difficult for the patient to accept the fact that there is a need for help with taking a shower or necessary grooming rituals.
Adapting to the patient’s personal hygiene routine allows for a smoother transition. Perhaps, your parent prefers having a bath. Be patient and try asking questions about why the person is refusing hygienic procedures. Maybe the temperature of the water is not right, or the floor is too cold. Adapting to the patient’s preferences helps build up a suitable home care routine.
Here are a few tips on what you can do to ensure fundamental safety during hygienic procedures:
- Install supporting handles where possible
- Ensure that there are no electronic devices in the bathroom
- Check carefully for any slippery surfaces
Nutrition of the patient becomes a problem for various reasons. As dementia takes over, the person loses the acquired automatisms of coordination in the use of cutlery. Familiar taste preferences are changing. There are problems with chewing and swallowing.
When elderly parents refuse help with eating, it is not the preparation of something delicious that becomes a priority, but the organization of the food consumption process, which will allow your loved one to receive the necessary nutrients regularly.
- Control their daily water intake- The patient needs at least 1.5 liters of liquid daily: water, green or black tea, and broth.
- Offer a sweet meal- A person with advancing dementia ceases to distinguish between bitter, salty, and sour tastes. The last sense to get dull is the perception of sweetness. Use sweet flavors to awaken the patient’s appetite for food: fruits, sweet puddings, and cereal with berries.
- Weight control- Regular weighing is necessary to maintain a stable weight of the patient. For seniors who are rapidly losing weight, the doctors typically prescribe a special high-calorie diet. If the patient is immobile, you can replace weighing with regular measurements of body volumes.
- Sit at the table in a relaxed atmosphere, with the radio and TV turned off. Get rid of other sources of noise that may distract the patient.
- If your parent is excited or, conversely, depressed, and refuses to eat, do not try to force the food on them. It is better to wait until the mood changes.
- Do not serve food and drinks too hot. Patients at the advanced stages of dementia are not aware of the danger of injury and may get burned.
- Also, to reduce the risk of injury, it is better to cook food that the person can eat without a knife and fork. With the development of the disease, the patient loses skills of using cutlery and can get hurt with piercing or cutting objects.
Commonly, the caretakers helping someone with dementia discover that the patient refuses to take medications. Here are some of the possible reasons why it could be happening:
- The patient is experiencing side effects but cannot explain it to the caregiver
- The person can be feeling better without the medication and decides medicine is no longer necessary
- The senior does not understand what the medicine is for
- The person is having trouble swallowing the pills
- The patient does not recognize or trust the caregiver
In every individual case, it is crucial to build a contact plan with the patient. It is essential to reach an understanding of what precisely the person wants and why it is so important to create a suitable routine. Patience is key in building trust with the patients and understanding what improves their state.
Self-Care While Being a Caregiver
For those whose parents with dementia refuse help, it is always a challenge to accept the new reality. Often relatives of patients remain alone with their problem, diving into the cares about the patient. At this time, many people develop depression, which is caused by witnessing the impairment of brain functions of the family member and the constant weight of responsibility on the shoulders.
The personal and emotional stress associated with caring for a patient with dementia is enormous. Only by understanding one’s own emotions, the caretaker can effectively bear with the patient’s needs.
Here are some crucial things to remember when taking care of someone with dementia:
- Do not keep your problems to yourself. You need to share your emotions of patient care with other people. Remember that your feelings are a natural reaction in your position.
- Do not reject the help and support of others.
- Know your limits. Sometimes patient care becomes an overwhelming task. If you feel that you are overworked, contact a specialist for help.
- Leave time for yourself. If you need a longer time for rest, try to find a professional caretaker.
Caring for a person who has Alzheimer’s or other dementia can be a rewarding but time-consuming task. In the early stages of dementia, the patient may remain independent and require little care. However, as the disease progresses, the need for care will increase, and in the end, round-the-clock help will be essential.
All American Home Care is here to help you and your family members go through these difficult times. Our qualified home care professionals have extensive experience in assisting patients of different age groups. We know how to help someone with dementia and surround the person with all the support needed. Contact us now to find out more about our services!