Dementia: 15 key points for the caregiver
Experts at Fundació ACE, aware of the impact that a dementia diagnosis has on the caregivers of the affected people, recommend taking into account some indications when facing the caring activity. These are recommendations and key points that must be integrated so that the development of the assistance to people with Alzheimer's and other dementias supposes a lower psychological burden.
Accept the progressive progress of dementia and the absence of cure. Although some medications and treatments may temporarily slow the progression of these types of diseases and reduce some of their symptoms, there is still no treatment.
Understand that many of the behavioural disorders associated with Alzheimer's and other types of dementia have no specific treatment.
Understand what anomalous attitudes, beliefs and behaviours are symptoms of the disease itself, such as memory problems.
Be aware that these symptoms are involuntary.
Do not try to reason with the person to change their behaviour. The resolution of behavioural disorders does not depend on their explanation.
It is important to observe in which situations behaviour disorders appear, the factors or facts that encourage them and, likewise, when they disappear.
Try not to take the behaviour of the person with dementia as a personal aggression: it is not done on purpose or with the intention of disturbing you.
Offer help without invalidating or underestimating. The need for help will be increasing as the person loses their autonomy.
Accept the changes that occur. People with dementia gradually change with the progression of the disease and so do their needs.
Foresee future problems and situations in order to anticipate and plan possible solutions to the changes that will appear and the needs that will arise.
Normalize feelings: understand that in the course of the disease there may be alterations in behaviour and this may cause discomfort and contradictory feelings towards the person with dementia.
Keep in mind what kind of decisions the person with cognitive impairment can make (or not).
Organize legal and financial matters as soon as possible after diagnosis. This way, it will be possible to ensure that, as far as possible, the affected person can participate in the decisions taken.
Prepare to make decisions on behalf of the person with dementia taking into account what his/her previous will was.
It is important to have the ability to recognize physical and emotional impact that involves taking care of a family member with dementia and accepting that it is essential to seek support for not doing it alone.