Caring For Someone Living With Dementia
People with dementia live in the moment and as a carer my aim is simply to give my client plenty of good moments
Selina, who joined us 16 months ago, is one of our wonderful carers. In her own words, she writes about what it’s like caring for someone who is living with dementia.
“My client is a gentleman in his 80’s who suffers from dementia. He was an accomplished business professional who had served in the armed forces before joining a bank. Originally the family was considering hiring two or three carers but I offered to care for him at home for six days and nights each week.
When I first started looking after him, he had been living with dementia for about nearly three years. Nights were often disturbed and when he woke up in the morning, even though he was in his own home, he would be confused and didn’t know what day it was. Most mornings he didn’t want to get up or get dressed. He wasn’t eating properly, wouldn’t take his medication and had stopped caring for himself properly which was evident by the dry condition of his skin.
My first priority was to try and create a schedule for him. I wanted to give him the reassurance of a familiar face and a familiar routine. Many of the first changes I made were small but effective. When it came to personal care, I learnt that he didn’t like to shower because his bathroom was cold. So, I made sure the bathroom was warm before taking him to shower.
I also encouraged him to brush his teeth while I did it too. Often people with dementia don’t like to take instructions so you can’t just tell people what to do. It took about two weeks of brushing our teeth together before it became a habit for him to brush his teeth by himself. I also made other small changes, such as buying him a new shampoo and shower gel to help with his dry skin.
When it came to his medication, it was also a struggle to get him to take it. I used to take the box of pills and show him his own name on the pack. As he started to trust me, it then became part of his new routine to take his prescription.
I quickly found out that his interests included gardening so every Monday and Wednesday we go to a garden club. We also go walking in a community park every week. When I first started caring for him, he used to walk with a stick but he now walks independently. He has lots of energy and often we do two or three laps of the park. We stretch together and I have seen great improvements in his flexibility.
I also soon realised that he has a very sweet tooth and loves chocolate. But unfortunately, he was eating far too much and his diet was not healthy. Plus he was not drinking enough fluids. Now we start the day every morning with a fresh grapefruit juice and I have gradually re-introduced fruit and vegetables into his diet to make it more balanced. We cook and bake together with semolina cake being one of his favourites. But I know he still loves chocolate. So every Friday, we go out for coffee and a treat. It’s become another part of our weekly routine.
It took about three months for him to start to recognise me. Now, when I go into his room in the morning, I am greeted with a big smile which of course makes me smile too. We’ve only had one disturbed night in the last seven months. But more importantly he knows my voice and he also knows the love I have for him. I strongly believe that everyone can feel love no matter their condition.
On his most recent visit to the doctor, they commented that he is in the best health that they have seen since his diagnosis three years ago. His weight is good and his skin is in much better condition. When I take him out, he has become so much more social. He loves to chat with people, who often do not realise that he has dementia.
I’m very proud to work for him and he knows how much I care for him. But for me this is more than a job. My own grandmother in Bangladesh had dementia but, as I was here in UK, I wasn’t able to care for her. Now I feel that I’ve been given the opportunity to help someone else.
At night, we listen to a sleeping app that I have on my phone. He loves reading his family history and we made a book together with stories, photographs and memories. We look at the photos together including the pictures of his two grandchildren and the cards they made for their grandfather. He sleeps well, reassured by the fact he is in his own home and surrounded by a loving family.
People with dementia live in the moment and as a carer my aim is simply to give my client plenty of good moments and to make sure he’s happy.”
For further information on how Draycott can help with a loved one living with dementia, please call +44 (0)20 7351 7171