Creating Calm: Effective Strategies for Dementia Patient and Caregiver Well-being

Dementia is becoming increasingly common in Singapore, with the condition affecting one in ten people over the age of 60. As the population ages, the number of dementia cases is expected to rise, making it crucial to address the needs of both dementia patients and their caregivers.

Effective care strategies not only enhance the quality of life for those with dementia but also help reduce the emotional and physical stress experienced by caregivers. This article explores comprehensive approaches to caring for dementia patients and their caregivers.

Prioritising Individuality and Dignity

In the realm of elder care, Allium Healthcare stands out for its progressive approach to dementia care. By focusing on individuality, dignity, and a holistic caregiving model, Allium Healthcare distinguishes itself from traditional elder care paradigms.

Providing care that respects and upholds the dignity of individuals with dementia is essential. Each person with dementia experiences the condition differently, making it necessary to develop personalised care plans. Chalene Goh, Principal Occupational Therapist and Allied Health Coordinator at Allium Healthcare, compiled these plans, which are tailored to the unique needs, preferences, and histories of each resident, ensuring that care is not a one-size-fits-all approach. By focusing on individuality, caregivers can help residents retain their sense of self and autonomy as much as possible.

Strategies for Caring for Dementia Patients

  1. Personalised Care Plans (Person centredness)
    Individualised care plans should be developed in collaboration with healthcare professionals, caregivers, and families. Person-centred care plans are often designed to view the person first and maximise success in daily life by tapping into one’s interests, preferences, and abilities.
  2. Safe and Supportive Environment
    Creating a safe and comfortable environment is critical. This involves minimising hazards, using memory aids, and maintaining a calm, predictable routine. Our facilities are designed to reduce anxiety and confusion, offering a tranquil and supportive space for residents. Valuing the opinions of people with dementia, rather than focusing on facts, promotes calmness and respect, making them feel safe and valued. For example, instead of asking, “What is your favourite place for a date?” ask,” Where would you suggest this young couple go for a date?”.
  3. Engaging Activities
    Activities tailored to the interests and abilities of dementia patients can stimulate their minds and provide enjoyment. These might include art and music therapy, gardening, puzzles, or gentle physical exercises.
  4. Effective Communication
    As Dementia progresses, the world becomes a confusing place for them due to the many visual, tactile, and auditory stimulations. Communication should be made simple by using short and clear sentences. At times, physical cues can be included to promote understanding.
  5. Routine establishment
    People with Dementia should have a clear routine from the moment they wake till they sleep. A routine should be a good balance of rest, exercise and daily chores. A good routine will aid them in better sleep at night. Continuity and consistency are the keys, and they increase their sense of control and calmness. An Occupational Therapist can aid in routine establishment at home. Alternatively, Dementia Day care centres can provide a structured routine and management for individuals.

Supporting Caregivers

Caregivers of dementia patients often face significant stress, impacting their health and well-being. Supporting caregivers is as important as caring for the patients themselves.

  1. Education and Training
    Understanding dementia and learning effective caregiving techniques can empower caregivers and reduce frustration. Workshops, online courses, and support groups can provide valuable information and skills. Allium Healthcare offers educational programs and training sessions for caregivers to enhance their skills and knowledge.
  2. Respite Care
    Respite care services offer temporary relief for caregivers, allowing them to take breaks and recharge. This is essential for preventing burnout and ensuring that caregivers can continue providing care. Short-term stays in residential facilities allow caregivers to have a short respite. Daycare centres providing professional care with engaging activities allow persons with Dementia to be cared for while caregivers can take this short duration to do their chores before resuming their caregiving duties in the evening.
  3. Emotional Support
    Caregivers should have access to counselling and support groups where they can share experiences and receive emotional support. Connecting with others in similar situations can be incredibly comforting and helpful.
  4. Self-Care Practices
    Encouraging caregivers to prioritise their own health is crucial. Regular exercise, a healthy diet, adequate sleep, and mindfulness practices can improve their physical and emotional resilience. Maintain a balance between caregiving and personal leisure pursuits.
  5. Building a Support Network
    Establishing a solid support network of family, friends, and professional caregivers can provide practical assistance and emotional backing. Sharing caregiving responsibilities can lighten the load and foster a sense of community.

Changing Mindsets Towards Caregiving

Fostering a positive mindset towards caregiving can significantly reduce stress for both the caregiver and the patient. One way to achieve this is to understand the condition and its progression. Viewing dementia-related behaviours as symptoms of the condition rather than intentional actions fosters empathy. It can be tricky when challenging behaviour presents itself. It will be good to identify the triggers for challenging behaviours and eliminate them trigger. When it’s not possible, a caregiver can consider help from a professional Occupational Therapist.

Caring for dementia patients and their caregivers requires a holistic and compassionate approach. As dementia becomes more prevalent in Singapore, examples from Allium Healthcare demonstrate how these principles can be effectively applied, setting a high standard for dementia care.

Images: Freepik

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