On the 21st of September, people across the globe will observe World Alzheimer’s Day in remembrance of those who suffer from this debilitating disease. As dementia progresses, the person will become increasingly less able to look after themselves – but this does not mean their life has come to an end. Approximately 24 million people suffer from dementia worldwide; learning how to care for them is crucial.
Whether you choose to care for your ailed family member yourself or place them in the charge of a caregiver or home, a key element of their well-being is simply not to be forgotten. Regardless of how frequently the elder is lucid, they need the love and support of their family and friends. Whichever avenue of care you choose, the key is to ensure your loved one is in good hands.
“Caring for someone with memory loss, confusion, restlessness and anxiety – all components of changes in the brain that is no longer able to receive or interpret signals – is not for the weak-hearted. It takes deep fortitude and strength of spirit,” says Matron Painter of the Brenthurst Residence.
As the elder’s ability to communicate falters, Matron Painter believes their behaviour becomes their language. “Gauging behaviour with this understanding can offer vital clues for managing their care. We can’t simply write off odd actions as being due to memory loss. Should we not rather consider what they may need, and in filling that need, reset their behaviour?”
Let us not forget that this person, even in their diminished mental capacity, is still a person. They lived a full life, had meaningful relationships, and shared their intelligence with the world for many decades. “When you view the elder as a person, as someone who was and still is an ‘Elder Resource’, you realise that they still have many gifts to give,” states Matron Painter.
When considering whether a care home is the right place for your loved one, question whether they focus on memory stimulating activities and what steps are taken to ensure the residents are comfortable and cared for. “We make special allowances, such as allowing couples to stay together at the home when one is suffering from dementia,” says Painter. “This helps the resident feel comforted and safe, while their partner gets the help they need to care for them, without having to live apart.”
The staff at the Brenthurst Residence passionately care for the aged, ensuring that their lives are still made worth living, helping them to fight off loneliness, helplessness and boredom. “When this is achieved, it goes a long way towards drastically improving their lives, alleviating the scariest and most frustrating elements of ageing and dementia,” she adds.
Family support is also incredibly important, and a vital element in keeping the family involved in the resident’s life. As such, Brenthurst Residence hosts a monthly *Dementia Care Support Group for family members and the community at large. The focus of this Group is to provide family and friends with vital tools needed to care for a loved one dealing with Dementia.
“When you see the elder’s eyes light up when something is triggered in the deepest recesses of their minds; when you realise that they are still alive inside, caring for them with love, patience and gentleness is a calling that must be answered,” concludes Painter.
For more information on dementia care, visit www.brenthurstresidence.co.za or contact Matron Painter at email@example.com.
*The Dementia Care Support Group is open to all and meets at 15h00 on the first Wednesday of every month, in the Brenthurst Residence lounge.