There is something that caregivers can do to slow down mental decline that’s progressively seen in dementia patients. A study was conducted by the Utah State University. The study suggests that there’s a link between the strategies caregivers use to manage stress and the mental functioning of the dementia patients they are caring for.
It’s been seen that caregivers who employ an approach focused on solving problems related to caregiving have better personal health. The care they provide to the dementia patients in their care, is also better. This was said by JoAnn Tschanz – a professor from USU. It was she together with her colleagues that discovered that making use of coping strategies that were healthy was important. When caregivers did this, then they were able to slow the mental decline of their patient by around 37%.
Distressing Behaviors Seen In Dementia Patients
Certain behaviors seen in dementia patients, such as wandering, anxiety, sundowner’s syndrome, hallucinations, and more, can be stressful for caregivers to deal with. There are two kinds of strategies that a caregiver can use, in such a situation. The first of these is to employ an emotion focused approach. The second is to be problem focused instead.
If your coping techniques are focused on your emotions, then you could find yourself feeling anxious, guilty, shameful, angry, and other negative emotions. You may find yourself venting as a result or trying to distract yourself from what is stressing you.
When your coping techniques are problem focused on the other hand, you’ll be focused on directly dealing with your stressor. You’ll try to understand what is causing the situation to become stressful, and then find a resolution for it.
Say the dementia patient in your care suddenly became agitated. If your coping technique was problem focused, then you’re more likely to want to find out what is causing the patient to feel anxious. You’ll look for common triggers that can cause such behaviors in dementia patients, and then try to ascertain whether the patient was exposed to such a trigger.
For the moment, you’ll try to help them calm down. Once they’re calm, you’ll think of ways to avoid exposing them to what triggered their anxiety, in the future.
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The environmental Impact Of The Caregiver
The amount of influence that you have as a caregiver, regarding the environment that your patient lives in, will increase the more their state deteriorates. According to Tschanz, caregivers are put in a situation that is considered unique. They are able to influence not just the physical, but also the mental well-being of the dementia patient.
Caregivers who prioritize their personal emotional as well as physical needs, are better at maintaining a home environment for the dementia patient, that is safe. A caregiver who is healthy physically and can also handle stress well, can work wonders for dementia patients. When such patients develop a bond with their caregivers, they are more likely to stay out of hospitals or nursing homes.
Effective Strategies On How To Deal With Stress
When you’re caring for a patient who has dementia, the kind of challenges you’ll face are complex. You’ll find yourself needing to use coping techniques that are both problem focused, as well as emotion focused. You could find yourself feeling angry, guilty, or sad. It’s not a good idea to suppress such feelings.
When you know how to deal with stress effectively, you can control your emotions. This can in turn have a positive impact on how the dementia patient is cared for. But how can you better manage your stress levels?
1. Taking Care Of Yourself
To provide better care for your dementia patient, you’ll first need to take care of yourself. You’ll need to be aware of what your physical, as well as emotional needs, are. There is an important link between how you feel and the kind of care you can provide. To always provide the best care, ensure that you feel good first.
2. Expect The Unexpected
Caring for a patient with dementia can be complex. One day, you could find them exhibiting multiple bad behaviors. In such situations, you should try to identify what is causing the problem. They may be hungry or sleepy. Know what their triggers are, so you’ll know what to expect going forward. You can maintain a log of what seems to trigger them. Your log can be your reference regarding how your patient behaves.
3. Knowledge And Learning
Try to find out as much as you can about dementia. When you know how the abilities and behaviors of a person with dementia are affected, you can provide better care for them.
4. Find Purpose
Tschanz says that caregivers who can find purpose behind their professional experiences, generally carry a lighter emotional load. If you are finding it difficult to stay positive, you can start maintaining a journal. Write down what the positive experiences in your life are, and read them whenever you feel down.
Caring for a patient with dementia can be challenging. However, when you’re able to deal with the stresses of your job more effectively, you can provide better care for your patients. Learn what you can do to better manage work related stress, and how you can put your best foot forward at your job.