As dementia symptoms progress in those who have this disease, they require more and more help with their daily activities. However, to the frustration of their caregivers who are providing dementia care, patients may not welcome their help for many reasons. Understanding why your loved one is resisting your help will help you find ways to effectively provide dementia care, advised Shawn Herz, MSG, director of programs at the Los Angeles Caregiver Resource Center. Here are some reasons why your loved one may be resisting your help:
Pride: Worsening dementia symptoms affect a person’s sense of pride. For an adult who has taken care of themselves for decades, it can be difficult to accept help getting dressed or maintaining personal cleanliness.
Timing: Your loved one may need more time carrying out his or her daily routines, even with your help. Make sure that with each activity, you allot extra time for it. If he or she needs additional time to finish, and you get frustrated, you might actually increase their level of agitation.
Changing perception: As dementia progresses, your loved one’s perceptions may change. For example, says Herz, “Shower water may look like falling glass.” Try to understand what is bothering him or her about that particular activity.
Dementia symptoms: Irritability, restlessness, confusion, sleep problems, agitation, and difficulty remembering how to carry out activities of daily living can all contribute to your loved one’s inability to cooperate with their dementia treatment. Just remember that up to half of all patients are physically aggressive towards their caregivers.
Changes in routine: If something disrupts his or her normal schedule, your loved one may become distressed and uncooperative.
Stimulating Surroundings: Dementia patients tend to do well in soothing environments. Too much noise, light, or activity can cause distress.
Fortunately, you can help your loved one be more open to accepting help, even as his or her dementia symptoms worsen. Here is how:
Join a Support Group: “Caregivers are a tremendous resource to one another”, says Herz. A support group can give you emotional support, so that you are more patient with your loved one. The support group can offer ideas on how to make activities go more smoothly at home.
Assess your attitude: While your loved one is resisting help, you may be contributing to the situation by telegraphing your anger, resentment, and frustration through your body language. You might not be aware of your nonverbal communication.
Remember Safety: You might have to adjust routines, not just so they are easier for your loved one, but safer as well. For example, a soak in the tub is not an option for a frail, confused dementia patient. Instead, go for sponge baths or a handheld shower head and shower seat.
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