Dementia doesn’t only impact a person’s memory, but their behaviour and communication skills as well. These changes are likely what prompted you to speak to a doctor to get an official diagnosis for your loved one as you were worried about their health.
Following a dementia diagnosis, the effects are likely to worsen over time. This can make caring for someone living with dementia progressively more difficult not only from a workload point of view, but also that of your mental and physical health.
Over time, someone living with dementia may no longer be able to get out of bed, get dressed, clean themselves, feed themselves, use the toilet or take their medication by themselves. When this happens, care can be exceptionally challenging if you haven’t received the right training. It can also be time-consuming, upsetting and stressful for both of you. You may find that professional care would be more beneficial before things get to this stage, however, everyone’s individual circumstances do vary.
This can be a slow decline, or it may happen suddenly, and it may not be something that you notice at first. But, if your loved one needs support doing what many would consider ‘easy’ day-to-day activities, then it will have a major impact on their life, as well as your own.
Signs to look out for
When looking after a loved one with dementia, you will notice their cognitive functions change over time, either quickly over a few months, or slowly over several years.
You may think that the care you are giving your loved one is enough, but it is important to think about their needs and the limitations of the care you can provide. You also need to look after your own mental and physical wellbeing, which will be impacted the longer you provide care yourself.
Consider the following signs to look out for, which suggest it may be time for your loved one to move into a care home and receive full-time, experienced care.
They struggle with mobility
Mobility becomes a challenge for everyone as we age, but those with dementia may experience major mobility issues. This includes anything from getting in and out of bed to making themselves a cup of tea. Advanced mobility challenges mean they may even struggle to use the toilet or feed themselves.
At this stage, your loved one will require around-the-clock care, which you may not be in a position to give if you have commitments such as work or children to look after. If you haven’t received training, moving someone around the house can be hard and could lead to accidents.
Once mobility issues begin to develop, you may want to consider a care home before your loved one requires constant help with their mobility.
They may be confused and forgetful
As their cognitive functions decline, your loved one will experience memory loss and confusion. This can include their short-term and long-term memory. This could be something as simple as forgetting where something was placed or how to use something.
This can become more serious if they are unable to remember if they have taken their medication or aren’t sure if they’ve eaten.
They may also be confused about the time, which may involve them getting up or going to sleep at different times of the day. This can lead to their days switching around and they spend the night awake.
Because their brain works differently, it can be easy for you to get frustrated and angry. This may lead to your loved one getting upset, which could make for a challenging environment to live in – especially as they may not understand why you are angry. To try and avoid this, you should consider seeking full-time care for your loved one.
They may wander
One of the common symptoms of dementia is wandering, which will likely increase over time. When someone living with dementia wanders, they will have a purpose, but they may not necessarily be able to tell you what that is. They may have a specific route they walk, but this can change. The danger here is, paired with their confusion, they may wander somewhere they do not recognise, which could result in them getting lost.
Care homes are equipped to deal with wandering residents, so if the frequency of wandering increases you should consider moving your loved one into a care home.
You may experience stress
Not all of the signs that someone should go into a care home are specific to the person living with dementia. If you experience stress, anxiety or upset by caring for a loved one, then this is another reason to consider a care home.
Of course, you love them and want them to have the best quality of life, which is why you are caring for them. However, if you’re constantly stressed you may not be able to give the best care – plus, stress can make any health concerns you might have worse.
As well as the wellbeing of your loved one, you also need to be mindful of your own health, and should also be an important consideration in your decision