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Living With Dementia Parent As Caregiver

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Hello, I am Kamal Jeet Singh, I am a caregiver for my dad who’s suffering from dementia since 2016. Recently, I read a piece of news and got to know that 40-60% of dementia caregivers experience significant stress. Such an immense number kept me worried. According to my layman knowledge, at least 50% of them aren’t aware of the skills required for dementia caregiving. So I thought of sharing my experience, hope it would help you in taking care of your adored one.

Without Understanding Dementia caregiving Is difficult

Firstly, you need to understand, when you are taking care of someone, it is necessary to take care of your well-being too! In most of the scenarios, you are so overwhelmed about caring for them, that caring for yourself sometimes becomes your least priority.

Initially, I too experienced a few challenges. Several times I got annoyed by it, sometimes I grudged at him and felt fatigued. As in days gone by, I have learned – exhaustion is not because of dad or the role, it ’s because of ‘Me’- not understood dad’s needs and behaviours. Later, I begin to be more instinctive and counterintuitive. Click the link and read more about dementia caregiver stress. Here are a few lessons I have learnt while taking care of my dad, hope it would help you.

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Don’t be reasonable or logical

My dad has trouble following the conversations. During times, I would start to explain to him. It didn’t work, most of the times – he begins to argue or feel overwhelmed and fussed. Understand the fact, they are not normal like us and they aren’t doing it for wanted! Stop being rational, instead, be straightforward and use simpler sentences. Usually, that works for me!

Engage and encourage

On a daily basis, I use to give him a few brain-enhancing exercises. It boosts brain activities. Here are a few exercises he does daily-

  • Mock list– I would give him a list of groceries and he has to recall the list
  • Math- A few simple math calculations, puzzles and chess
  • Colour test– I would name the colour and he has to identify

It’s useful and effective, try it out! After every successful attempt, don’t forget to encourage them. My old buddy wants a dozen of shoulder pat every morning.

Respond with warmth

Sometimes my dad keep asks for the reassurance or he may get fussed while not recognising familiar faces. In similar situations, respond politely and compose the emotions. During times, hold their hands or hug to make them feel delightful and make efforts to understand the missing strings.  

Place and peace matters!

Usually, my dad gets sensory overload when he is into loud atmospheres or when he enters my cluttered room. Sometimes he gets annoyed when visits a few noisy places like the markets, malls and travel stations. It is advisable to support them to evade such atmospheres. If possible make the room wallpaper bright colours and play smooth music with a pleasant fragrance.

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Assists them during tasks

While performing tasks, often I do see my dad’s face expression During times I cut-down the tasks into smaller ones to make him finish easily.

Maintain your sense of humour

Make them laugh whenever possible. Humour is an effective tool to maintain social skills. Note: be careful with what you are joking at, it should poke them.  

Above all love

We spend more times by having fruitful conversations, a long walk in the nearby park, listen to old songs together and hug him for no reason. Show them you care unconditionally and be presentable in all situations. Don’t hesitate to ask help to the professionals.

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