10 Tips When Caring for Someone Living with Cognitive Impairment
Published on: November 6, 2019
by Home Instead Senior Care:
- Get a medical assessment and diagnosis. If there are noticeable cognitive issues, it is important for your loved one to get a comprehensive medical exam. There is a chance that the cause of the cognitive impairment is treatable. There are medical, emotional and social benefits to getting a diagnosis. It also provides the opportunity to plan for the future.
- Educate yourself on the disease process. A diagnosis of cognitive impairment can be overwhelming and different types of dementia can result in different symptoms. Most forms of cognitive impairment are progressive in nature and get worse with time. Be sure to learn about your loved one’s diagnosis so you can understand what to expect.
- Plan ahead as much as possible. Having conversations early in the diagnosis is important to ensure the individual can contribute his or her wishes in the decision-making process. Planning should involve researching options for care and support. Setting up health, financial and legal documents is also important.
- Help to maximize independence. While a person with cognitive impairment may lose certain abilities over time, there is still much that they can do. You can adapt certain tasks or activities to meet them where they are.
- Determine needs and re-evaluate often. Determine your loved one’s needs in various areas including: personal care, household care, health care, emotional care and safety/supervision. As they progress through the disease, re-evaluate their needs and the kind of support needed.
- Prioritize safety in the home. Many forms of cognitive impairment can accelerate the aging process. For example, it can impact visual depth perception, mobility and gait. Assess the home for potential hazards by downloading a free home safety checklist at caregiverstress.com.
- Find opportunities for meaningful engagement. Even with a diagnosis, a person living with cognitive impairment can still engage in meaningful activities. Use clues from their past to find opportunities to engage your loved one in activities they enjoy.
- Step into your loved one’s reality. Some forms of cognitive impairment may result in your loved one thinking they are living in a different time or place. However, it is important to step into their reality and resist the urge to argue or correct them.
- Create a support network. Engage family members, friends and neighbors in caregiving. Determine the best ways they can contribute based on their strengths and availability. Clearly communicate ways in which you need their care and support. Keep in mind that their contribution may directly support your loved one or may support you as the primary caregiver.
- Take care of yourself. It is important for family caregivers to take care of themselves. You can also connect with others through a support group, online community or disease specific resource group. Don’t forget that it is ok to reach out for help.
For in-home care and support visit www.HomeInstead.ca.