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Care Options

Dementia

Friends and family - having clear and regular communication from the outset can help. Some people find it helpful to hold family meetings at the beginning and as the individual’s needs change so that support can be discussed and shared.

Community help - There are many different types of help available from various places. It’s good to start with contacting your local Alzheimer's NZ branch, Age Concern, Carers NZ or your local Bupa care home. Your GP or medical specialist is also a valuable source of information and help.

Types of help can include:

  • Home care workers to help with personal care such as washing, dressing and putting someone living with dementia to bed at night.
  • Day programmes may be available at a local care home.
  • Private care: you may be able to arrange private domestic or personal care support through a nursing or home care agency.
  • Respite care: a short break for the person living with dementia in a local care home.
  • Home care like help with household tasks like washing, ironing and vacuuming.

Considering a care home - We recommend you look at suitable care homes for someone living with dementia if:

  • It’s unsafe for them to be alone.
  • They need increased physical support from a carer.
  • They are needing more care than the carer is able to provide.
  • They’re becoming confused or frustrated to the point of being upset or distressed.

Eating

As time passes, cooking will become increasingly difficult for your loved one. Managing appliances, remembering cooking times, recognising food and remembering when they’ve eaten are a few things that are affected by declining concentration, memory and judgement.

Dressing

Keeping your loved one involved with getting dressed and undressed for as long as possible is a great help with their sense of identity and dignity. Once they do require assistance, do offer it tactfully and sensitively.

Grooming

Appearance is important to us all, and is likely to still be important to you loved one. You can prompt them, for example by handing them a hairbrush to brush their own hair. Extra bits are important too; a woman may like to wear makeup, perfume, jewellery or have her nails painted and a man might like to use aftershave or a hair product.

Washing

Your loved one has carried out their personal hygiene activities for years. Needing help can be embarrassing and awkward for you both. It’s important to keep their independence for as long as possible in this instance. Talking with your loved one about their feelings and preferences helps. Try to find out what they can still do themselves and exactly what they need help with.

Using the bathroom

Continence problems and needing assistance with using the toilet can be distressing for you and your loved one. Controlling these urges is something we learn to do from a very early age and losing that ability can feel like a dramatic loss of control and dignity.

Relationships

As time passes and the illness progresses your relationship with your loved one will change. You may experience a range of feelings, including bereavement; a sense of loss for the person that you once knew, for the relationship you once shared or for their companionship and understanding. At times you may feel overwhelmed by sadness or anger or you may feel unhappy or resentful for the impact on your own life.

Body language

As dementia progresses, your loved one may become increasingly confused and hardly able to speak at all. But language is only one form of communication.

Behaviour

Your loved one may experience changes in behaviour as dementia progresses, including a loss of self-control and inhibitions. Aggression, hurtful comments, threats, pinching or lashing out at people or objects are not uncommon and can be very distressing for both of you.

Keeping active

Being active together is beneficial to both you and your loved one. It’s a great way of relieving stress, encouraging feelings of happiness and improving your overall wellbeing.

Calm time

You might find it helpful to include activities that allow you to spend calm, peaceful time together. Knitting, model making and painting are good examples, or you may prefer watching sports or movies together, listening to music or simply reliving old memories.

TV and radio

Your loved one may still enjoy watching television or listening to their favourite radio station. However, as they become less able to concentrate and their short-term memory deteriorates, they may find it confusing and distracting.

Help from family and friends

It’s usually helpful to keep regular communication with family and close friends. This could be done through phone calls or by holding a get-together so issues can be discussed and shared. This can assist in sharing the burden and prevent feelings of guilt or resentment towards the people you're closest to.

Equipment that can help

One major cause of concern and stress you may have is the fear of your loved one wandering and becoming injured. To help manage this, you can place discreet sensors at strategic points in the home. These will automatically raise an alert if activated, and can be a huge help for you to get a good night’s sleep.

Other specialist equipment

There’s a wide range of equipment available that you may find useful with daily living. The things you or your loved one will need will vary as the dementia progresses, but could include:

Community help

As dementia progresses, your loved one may not know what care they need or be resistant to community help. In which case, help may be accepted more easily if it's introduced in the earlier stages of dementia.

Assessment for community care and assistance

Each District Health Board has a community needs assessment team that is responsible for assessing the needs of people who may require care services. They approve publicly funded services and can help you to get assistance from private agencies and volunteer services.

Memories matter

Your loved one’s memory will gradually deteriorate as dementia progresses. They’ll struggle to remember what’s new and what’s just happened. While their recent memories fade, those from the past will remain relatively well-preserved.

Get to know the person in your care

Do you know what your loved one’s most cherished memory is, where they were born or what their nickname was at school?

Collect your memories

To help your trip down memory lane, you may want to start collecting things by using a scrapbook or keepsake box to keep your loved one’s achievements and memories.

Coping as a carer

It’s really important that you care for yourself, whether it’s because you’re also leading your own life, wanting to provide the best possible care to your loved one or planning for the time when you no longer care for them primarily. You don't have to cope alone. There are many sources of help available.

Being a friend

Below are seven ways to be a great friend to a loved one with dementia:

Considering a care home

We recommend you look at suitable care homes for your loved one if:

Dealing with guilt

Thinking about moving your loved one into a care home is possibly one of the hardest, most distressing decisions you’ll ever have to make. At this point, you may be feeling a lot of emotions and just need time to come to terms with the decision.

Care options

Usually, people prefer to gradually introduce their loved one to a care home. Most of our care homes offer day care, respite or short-term stays. These options are great for giving you both a break. Respite can be anything from a few days to a few weeks.

Partners in care

Our philosophy is person-centred care, which means we’ll get to know your loved one and find out their likes and dislikes so that we can provide individualised care and make them feel more at home.