How are you coping with a loved one who has dementia? Understanding dementia care.

In this Q&A, Daryl Carson, Home Care Coordinator at St Louis Home Care, explains what happens in families when a loved one starts showing symptoms of dementia. With many years of experience in dementia care, he offers advice on how to navigate this journey with the least amount of stress to your loved one and other members of your family.

How are families impacted when a loved one gets dementia?

“The experience can be confusing for families of loved ones who are experiencing dementia. Unless they have had exposure to dementia before, they often struggle to understand how it affects a person.

They may not even recognise that the person has dementia and feel frustrated because they don’t know what to do with the behavioural changes that are occurring. They may struggle with repetitive conversations. They can become short tempered with the person as communication changes, for example they may ask a question and receive an answer back that is irrelevant to the question.

Initially when the condition is not understood properly, people begin to feel awkward in social situations. They may feel embarrassed because their behaviours are different but no-one knows why yet. This may also lead to social isolation for families who start to avoid public situations.

In the early days before people reach out for support, families can become unnecessarily stressed and anxious and this is completely understandable.”

How do you see people coping or not coping? When do they reach out for help?

“People can either cope or not cope depending on how much research they have done and what they understand about the condition of dementia.

Initially the family tries to cope the best way they can because they are not sure how much help they may need. Or they may try to manage the situation themselves because they don’t know where to start looking for help.

If families are starting to show signs of stress, their relationship with their loved one with dementia can be damaged and trust can be lost. If things are allowed to deteriorate too much, then it is harder to care for them to rebuild this trust.

Your local GP is often a good place to begin to start understanding dementia and the resources available in Adelaide for dementia care. At St Louis we have extensive experience in dementia care and people call us needing help. Our home care packages are designed to provide dementia care and support people who want to stay at home and be cared for.

There is a large network of support available today for people and families with dementia. Dementia Australia offer many services and support for people with dementia.”

“Information is power, there is no need to struggle along with the problem on your own. There is plenty of information and support available, all you need to do is take the first step.”

Is caregiver guilt an issue? If so, how do you advise families about this?

Caregiver guilt can occur and the main reason is because families feel inadequate about not being able to handle the situation without frustration. But how can they when they have not had experience with dementia before?

It is a complicated issue and one that needs professional support.

Once the condition has been confirmed and validated, and the behaviour understood, finally people can get the support and help they need to move forward. The weight comes off their shoulders and they wished they had reached out sooner. They are still there for their loved one, it’s just with some additional support.”

How do you work with families to provide dementia care?

“We help people develop a plan to provide dementia care for their loved one in the following ways:

General advice

We provide advice on general dementia care and how to care for people with dementia, information and helpful tips on what we understand from our years of experience - communication styles, management, conflict resolution, conversation tactics, managing their routines, how to avoid challenging situations and more.

Read our blog about Dementia Care – A Caregiver’s 10 Commandments.

Connecting you to dementia care resources

We help you get connected to resources for dementia care such as:

Home Dementia Care

We provide home care services in Adelaide and Victor Harbor and we have many years of in house expertise in dementia care. Depending on the level of dementia, your loved one can live in the comfort of their own home, safely with additional support.

One final note for carers and families, don’t hide the dementia and don’t be embarrassed. In the end you will only burn out and become a lot more frustrated. Reach out for help and open to the increasingly supportive network available for people with dementia.

You can also become a dementia a friend to help create dementia friendly communities.”

Call St Louis about our home dementia care programs

At St Louis we have been caring for people with dementia for more than 70 years. We have the knowledge and expertise to help you support your loved one to live comfortably at home. Call St Louis Home care in Adelaide on 8332 0950 or St Louis home care in Victor Harbor on 8552 1481 for a confidential conversation.

Want to learn more?

Dementia Blog