Seek training, if you’re caring for a dementia patient. It’s not obvious what to do, and the most well-meaning caregivers make mistakes.
Some 15 million Americans — devoted spouses, children, relatives, and friends — provide unpaid care for a dementia patient, providing 80 percent of all the care in the home. The demand can feel grueling. In fact, a third of caregivers report that their own health has declined under the strain.
Training can make the job less stressful experts report. But only half of the people who give unpaid care ever get advice or tips from experts.
You might think that you know your mother (or wife, or father, or husband) better than anyone else and can suss out her needs as you go along. However, the best practices aren’t obvious, even to doctors and nurses, notes Zaldy Tan, MD, medical director of the UCLA Alzheimer’s and Dementia Care Program.
Here are some expert tips, from the UCLA program and elsewhere, if you are caring for a dementia patient:
Let her eat cookies. Many caregivers keep a loved one on a low-fat or low-calorie diet. That seems to make sense, since diabetes, which is tied to extra pounds, is associated with dementia, and they might think a diet with treats will aggravate the condition. Actually, because people with dementia typically lose interest in food, Tan and others recommend doing what works so a dementia patient eats and doesn’t lose too much weight.
September 26, 2017
Janet O’Dell, RN