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Caring for those with dementia can be very rewarding but can also take a lot of patience, kindness and flexibility. To help manage daily tasks of caring for your patients more effectively, and to still ensure these patients have purpose and a supportive environment, you may want to consider these tips:
Education – When caring for someone living with dementia, it can be really helpful to learn more about the condition and how it affects people. There are various education sources and programs available, like Dementia Australia, that can help you learn and understand more about dementia in order to better care for patients with the condition.
Create a safe environment – It is important that a safe environment is provided for patients, as dementia can impair judgement, perception and problem-solving skills, therefore increasing risk of injury. Some simple ways to create a safe environment is to ensure surfaces aren’t cluttered, avoid rugs or cords that could cause falls, ensure good lighting without glare and as little noise as possible when undertaking activities with the patient.
Communication – It is best to speak calmly and provide clear instructions when speaking to someone with dementia as this is how they can understand you better. Speaking calmly and gently also allows them to feel more comfortable and respected and reduces any chance of fear or wariness.
A routine/schedule – Creating a regular routine for a patient with dementia is a great way to keep life feeling as normal as possible and provide consistency. It is important to remember that flexibility is key with routines though and it should be able to be adapted if need be.
Activities – Learning more about the person living with dementia can help you to establish suitable activities that they may bring them joy. Simple tasks are often best and may encourage patients to make use of skills they may have forgotten such as watering plants, working in the garden, cooking or baking.
Incorporate exercise – Exercise provides numerous benefits for everyone and for someone with dementia can boost mood, improve sleep, help to maintain motor skills, reduce risk of falls, improve memory and improve social skills. The type of exercise to encourage a patient to undertake will differ depending on individual factors, however some examples of suitable exercise may include walking, cycling, aerobics, yoga and even dancing.
Focus on the individual – Individuals with dementia will experience symptoms and outcomes differently and it is important to take this into consideration when caring for them. When it comes to all of the above tips, it is best to alter them to fit the individual needs of your patient in order for them to have the best experience and for you to handle the challenges that may come from caring for someone with dementia.
For another great resource for learning more about dementia and how it affects people, visit: https://www.dementia.org.au/