In Singapore, there are approximately one in 10 people above the age of 60 who suffer from dementia – about 82,000 people as of 2018 and increasing. The numbers might not surprise you, but it’s never easy to adjust to a loved one being diagnosed with dementia. Caregivers of elderly suffering from dementia will realise that caring for a person with diminishing mental, physical and functional abilities is an enormous and overwhelming task – especially when done alone. Caregivers can begin to neglect their own well-being and experience pressing stress and anxiety.
While caring for elderly dementia patients is unique for every family or individual, it helps to have general guidelines on the best ways to do so, ensuring a smoother and more rewarding caregiving experience. Here are our practical tips on how to care for your loved one who is suffering from dementia:
Talk about it in the early stages
As early as possible, talk to your loved one about their wishes for healthcare and finances, so that you understand clearly what they want and can work out reasonable expectations with them. This also helps you to respect their wishes and make the most suitable decisions for them, even when they become less lucid in later stages of dementia.
Questions that you can ask are:
- Who is going to be responsible for making decisions for care (including financial decisions), when the person suffering from dementia can no longer do so?
- Where will your loved one stay? If your loved one is staying alone, they will soon require 24/7 support and care, making it necessary to make changes to living arrangements. This can mean moving in with you, a family member, or using an elderly care facility like nursing homes for day care or long-term care.
- Who will take care of your loved one? While you might assume that other family members will take up responsibility for caring for your elderly loved one, it might not be in their capacity to do so because of their work or living environment. That’s why you need to talk about all options for care including professional caregivers for in-home or nursing home care.
Making healthcare and financial decisions in early stages prepare both you and your loved one for the journey ahead, plus prevents you from having to deal suddenly with difficult arrangements in the future.
Have your own care & support plan
Even as you make plans for your loved one, you need to have a personal support plan for yourself. Taking care of yourself will help you to better manage care for your loved one.
Rather than attempting to take over all caregiving responsibility, ask for help from family and friends. Having people to help you with everyday tasks like shopping for groceries, cleaning the home, cooking or sending food, can really give you that extra space to take care of your loved one and yourself. Schedule time for others to step in and do the caregiving on a regular basis to free up time for yourself to engage in hobbies and relaxing activities.
Instead of struggling to provide the best quality care on your own, you can pick up caregiving skills and knowledge from caregiving training courses in Singapore. With guidance from experienced caregivers, you will have better strategies to care for your loved one and cope with your caregiving responsibilities too.
Be around people you can talk to about your struggles – you can find support groups to do that if it’s difficult for you to talk to family or friends. Make time to exercise, spend time with friends, do the things you enjoy – these are just some ways you can set up a network and routine to take care of yourself.
Engage professional services
Entrusting your loved one into the hands of a professional caregiver does not mean that you are neglecting them or failing in your duties as a caregiver. It simply is another option for providing your loved one with the full, 24/7 attention that they need to live with their condition in the best possible way. It might also be a misconception that your loved one can only receive professional care by staying permanently in a nursing home. In fact, there are many ways you can arrange caregiving services for your loved one:
Nursing home day care allows you to have your loved one cared for by dedicated caregivers in nursing home facilities in the day, giving you space to work or take time for yourself. Look for nursing homes that have caregivers specialised in caring for elderly with dementia, to best support your loved one and give you peace of mind. Day care centres in Singapore also give your elderly parent the chance to engage in fun, suitable activities and socialise with other elderly – a great benefit to their mental and physical health.
You can also consider home care for your loved one to receive professional care in their own home or, if they are living with you, in your home. Respite care provides temporary short-term care in the nursing home, allowing caregivers to take a break for a few days to weeks at a time; long-term care can be provided to seniors in the nursing home, a suitable option for elderly experiencing later stages of dementia or families who are unable to cope with caring for the senior at home.
Altogether, consider all care options as early as possible in order to arrange the best care for your loved one suffering from dementia. Caring for a person with dementia on your own is a challenging and tiring task, so it is recommended that you find yourself a solid support system or use professional caregiving services to share your responsibility!
Orange Valley is a nursing home in Singapore that is dedicated to providing personalised and professional care for elderly with dementia. We have caregivers who are specialised in taking care of dementia patients, and offer a wide range of services like respite, in-home, and day care. Get in touch with us to find out more.