Dementia is an illness that slowly robs people of their abilities. For families, it is difficult to witness a person you know and love start to slip away into the grips of Alzheimer’s disease.
What can you do to help protect your loved one’s dignity when they can’t do it for themselves?
Here are five tips you can use to help your senior maintain his or her dignity and quality of life.
Promoting Dignity for People with Alzheimer’s
- Make your senior loved one feel valued. Your loved one might not respond to or even understand the words “I love you” any more, but that doesn’t mean you should stop saying it. Now more than ever, your aging family member needs you and needs to feel that he or she still has your love and affection. Many people with dementia, especially those in the early stages of their disease, still have moments of clarity and awareness. Those moments might be fleeting, but how wonderful for them to know they are loved during those times.
- Help your family member feel safe. Older adults with Alzheimer’s and dementia sometimes experience hallucinations. It can leave them feeling scared or otherwise uncomfortable. Be sure to hold their hand when they feel frightened, or go ahead and take a look into that shadowy corner to confirm there’s nothing sinister waiting for them. You might feel a bit silly, but think of how much better you’ll make them feel by your small actions.
- Continue to celebrate your loved one’s life. It’s easy to forget someone’s birthday when even he or she can’t remember what day it is. But that doesn’t mean that you should neglect to celebrate birthdays, holidays, and other milestones in life. In fact, it’s important for you and your loved ones to celebrate the earlier, happier memories of their lives.
- Maintain their quality of life. Alzheimer’s and dementia can cause people to become more and more withdrawn. That doesn’t mean you should remove all of the trappings of their former lives. Keep artwork on the walls, particularly family photographs. It may help to use older photographs that your loved one might be more likely to recognize.
- Make decisions with their best interests in mind. When you are caring for a loved one who has Alzheimer’s or dementia, it is tempting to make decisions based on your own convenience. And while it’s important to maintain your own quality life as a hardworking caregiver, you should also keep your senior loved one’s best interests in mind. Whether it’s deciding upon an assisted living community with memory care or interviewing health care professionals to work with him or her on a regular basis, focus on what is best for them.
It can be difficult to remain optimistic in the face of a battle like Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. However, when you witness your loved one living with dignity, it can make a big difference in how well you feel about the job you are doing as a caregiver. We hope these tips help!