Providing care for people with dementia can be immensely rewarding, but it can also be very challenging. There’s definitely plenty that care workers need to bear in mind when it comes to the impact of the disease and how it should be best handled.
We’ve taken a closer look at some of the challenges that you may face when caring for a person with dementia, and how best to cope with them.
Coping with Changes
People who suffer from dementia can feel vulnerable as their condition deteriorates and they become increasingly reliant on other people to carry out everyday tasks for them. Therefore, it’s paramount that dementia sufferers are kept reassured and that they feel supported, while retaining some level of independence.
As the patient’s condition worsens, so will their needs and abilities. It’s essential that you learn to adapt to these changes, which, at times, can leave you feeling like you’re having to start all over again. It can also be difficult and disheartening to see the service user struggle with things they used to be able to do, but it’s important that you focus on what they can still do instead – and how you can support them through these tasks.
Preparing for Difficult Emotions
Dementia causes a neurological decline that can result in a host of other issues. Depending on the areas of the brain that are affected, patients may develop difficult behaviours and moods, posing considerable challenges for people who look after them.
As a dementia care worker, you may find yourself feeling frustrated or burnt-out at work. At times you may even feel isolated and helpless, or as though you’re caring for the person out of a sense of duty – all of which are very common and reasonable reactions. Before you take on a dementia-care-giving role, you should be prepared to deal with these emotional ups and downs, or the feelings can have a negative impact on many parts of your professional and personal life.
Being a Realistic Caregiver
Most dementia care workers will tell you that they’ve experienced good and bad days with their service users. Your job is to try your best to foster the good days and the good moments for the service user without putting strains on their daily lives.
Remember that most formal diagnoses of dementia, including Alzheimer’s, are irreversible. They all worsen over time, and, unfortunately, there is no known cure yet. That’s why you should be realistic about what constitutes success during the progression of the disease – a successful dementia care worker is one who is able to assure that the service user is as safe, and as comfortable and content with their life as possible.
Taking Care of Your Own Wellbeing
Don’t be reluctant to ask your employers or colleagues for support when facing challenges or struggling with particularly difficult patients. Caregiving is not easy, let alone for someone with dementia, and there will be moments when you need a hand.
It’s important to be able to talk to someone about your worries and address your concerns because bottling them up will affect your wellbeing (and the wellbeing of the person you’re caring for) in the long run. It’s equally as important for your physical health and psychological wellbeing that you are able to take breaks from work and find time for yourself and your own interests. Make the most of your free time to reflect and relax, enjoy personal interests and hobbies, and socialise with friends and family.
Finding Care Worker Jobs Near You
Although some symptoms are shared amongst many people with dementia, the impacts of the disease and how they should be dealt with vary.
If you think you’re equipped with the mental agility it takes to care for people with dementia, you can search for care worker jobs in your area using our Job Search feature, and start helping people who suffer from dementia and reaping all the rewards that come with that!