James was 25 when he decided to leave his job in order to care for her mother who was diagnosed with Dementia. Together with his brother, they moved back into their mum’s home so they could always keep an eye on her.
Because of her condition, his mum would sometimes get day and night mix up. There were times when they would see her pack at 3 am for a holiday that isn’t real or she would get dressed at 4 in the morning for a lunch date.
“I remember being so worried that I would tie a string to Mum’s bedroom door and put it on my finger so I’d know if she left her room in the night!”
For the next couple of months, James noticed that his mother started missing appointments because she gets confused with days, dates, and time so he decided to purchase a digital clock that would help her keep track of the date and time.
However, as his mum’s Dementia progressed, leaving his mum for personal errands has been difficult for him.
Aside from setting up a CCTV at home that’s connected to his phone, he made sure their home was safe for her mum to loiter and tinker around in case she decides to cook or eat.
It was also getting a bit hard to reach out and converse to his mum too. James noted that his mum became more agitated, nervous, and would often throw tantrums.
All James would do is to just talk calmly to his mum, ask her what’s wrong, and just show to his mum that he’s going to be there for her no matter what. That would make his mum relax.
Then, in 2011, 5 years after James started taking care of his mum, she died peacefully in their home.
Tips on how to care for your loved ones
Just like James, you too, can help make the life of your loved one easier especially during this trying time of their life.
- Have your loved one seek professional help
Aside from diagnosis and medications, they can give you, as the carer, expectations and some tips that can help you and your loved one cope with the situation.
Join support groups
Also, when our loved ones are surrounded with other patients as well, they will feel at home and they will not feel alone.
However, because of Covid-19, it is best to join online support groups. With the help of technology, reaching out and communicating to people who have the same experience is now a breeze.
- Give them a hobby
Equip your home with daily living aids
- Install magnetic locking systems to prevent them from opening cupboards that contain harmful home chemicals such as cleaning supplies.
- Use stove knob covers so they can’t easily turn on the stove which can cause fire when they forget to turn it back off.
- Put up a toilet night light, so they can easily go to the comfort room in the middle of the night.
- Provide food preparation aid or cutting aid that can make cooking easier and safer for them
Using aids for daily living can significantly provide your loved one comfort and ease when performing day-to-day tasks.
- Talk to them and use body language
- Keep it simple. When letting them choose what they want to do or when asking them questions, give them yes or no questions. Avoid conversations that can confuse them even more. Using nonverbal cues and body language is an effective way of communicating with them.
- Be sensitive. As they say, “Think before you speak”. Be cautious on how to approach and talk to them. Avoid provoking them so they won’t start acting aggressive which can cause stress on your part too.
With your will to take care of your loved one, the hundreds of dementia-friendly aids available in the market, and a strong support system, you can do it - just like James.
Support and Resources
Although James is a fictitious name to protect his privacy, his story is definitely one that shows compassion and patience for his mum who lived with Dementia.