Dementia

Care Options For Elderly With Dementia

Published on 28 Mar 2022

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Today, one in 10 seniors who are aged 60 and above in Singapore has dementia.

Dementia is a degenerative condition of the brain that can cause a decline in the way a person thinks and behaves. In later stages, dementia can even affect a patient’s ability to swallow, speak and move.

As the disease progresses and patients become more dependent on their families for daily activities, caregivers may begin to consider elderly caregiving services that they can trust. In this article, we share some tips on how to communicate with a loved one with dementia, and how to choose a service that you can tap on for professional help.

Jump to the following sections:

How to communicate with a loved one who has dementia

Seniors with dementia usually find it hard to remember things, follow conversations, or express their needs and wants. They may also be more withdrawn, or feel confusion, fear and frustration.

Caregivers thus need to learn to adapt to the situation, be patient and spend time understanding them. Here are some tips on how to best communicate with family members who have dementia:

Speak simply

When communicating with a dementia patient, it is important to make conversations simple and easy to follow. Here are a few tips:

  • Use simple sentences, as too much information at one go can be confusing for them.
  • Make sure your tone of voice is respectful and reassuring.
  • Use familiar words and phrases whenever possible. They may not understand complex words or concepts.
  • Use gestures and body language to support what you are saying.
  • Repeat yourself gently if they show confusion.
  • Keep conversations brief to maintain your loved one’s attention.
  • Do recap on key points at the end of the conversation.

Avoid arguing and remain calm

Avoid arguing with or correcting your loved one, as that will only frustrate you and them. Here are some tips to help you get your message across:

  • Be patient. Dementia often results in memory loss and can cause people to have difficulty processing information.
  • Be clear and specific with what you need them to do.
  • If one way of communicating isn’t working, try different approaches to support the conversation, such as using photographs.

Psychologist at NTUC Health, Ms Hia Soo Boon, shares a piece of advice for caregivers who face constant and repetitive questions from loved ones with dementia: “If they constantly ask about the time for meals, for example, try getting them a small clock and labelling it with lunch or dinner times so that they can refer to the time themselves. You may also prepare small snacks for them in between meals.”

“You may also have to enlist the help of other family members to prepare voice recordings that answer their questions. Organise activities for your children at home to engage their grandparents, or consider enrolling them to Senior Day Care services. The dementia programmes and activities at the centre can help to keep their mind stimulated and active throughout the day,” she added.

Remember that it is normal to experience frustration when caring for your loved one with dementia and that you are not alone. Find more resources and guides on caring for a loved one with DementiaHub.SG.

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At NTUC Health, we foster social bonds and provide emotional support for seniors with dementia through our suite of caregiving services.

How to choose a care service for loved ones with dementia

Caring for a person with dementia may also require expert help, especially when you have a lot on your hands and don’t want to leave them alone while you are at work. Here are some of the care options NTUC Health can support you with and how you may go about choosing one that is suitable for you and your loved one:

Home Care

As dementia can cause confusion, mood changes and withdrawal, Home Care can be a preferred option for seniors who want to stay in a familiar environment. Our Care Associates can visit to provide help with your loved one’s personal hygiene, meal preparation, light housekeeping and companionship.

Seniors who have recently been discharged from the hospital can also receive in-home care from our private nurses, who are able to dispense medication, clean wounds, monitor vital signs and blood pressure, and change feeding tubes and female urinary catheters, amongst others.

Our Home Medical doctors can also visit to provide prescriptions for your loved ones and carry out medical check ups to ensure your loved one is doing well.

Dementia Day Care

If your loved one is experiencing cognitive decline and memory problems due to dementia or Alzheimer’s disease but otherwise mobile and sociable, they may benefit from centre-based care. With our Dementia Day Care services, seniors with dementia can engage in brain-stimulating puzzles and group activities that are key to slowing down cognitive decline. Reminiscence and music therapy, daily exercises and games are also some of the ways your loved one can stay engaged with their peers.

Aside from meeting their basic care needs, our Dementia Day Care services are designed to promote enhanced well-being and communication skills. Rest assured that your loved one will be in good hands throughout the day.

Nursing Home

In the final stages of dementia, seniors may lose the ability to carry on a conversation, have difficulty swallowing, and may eventually be unable to control their own movements or become incontinent. As memory and cognitive skills continue to worsen, significant personality changes may also take place. Our nursing homes support such seniors who require 24-7 long-term care.

Learn how we support seniors with dementia to live with dignity and choice at our nursing homes.

Rehabilitation & Physiotherapy

Dementia is degenerative and chips away at a person’s ability to stay independent. But what if there was a way to slow down the physical effects of the disease? Whether at home or in a centre, clients with NTUC Health are provided the opportunity to improve their quality of life as much as possible.

With the help of our team of physiotherapists, occupational therapists and speech therapists, seniors with dementia can work towards strengthening their muscles to stay mobile, re-train their ability to carry out chores independently, and improve their speaking or swallowing abilities.

Find out more about how our Rehabilitation & Physiotherapy services can help.

Summary

Notice signs of dementia in your loved one? Speak to a doctor for a diagnosis.

With a care plan in place, you will be better equipped on the caregiving journey. NTUC Health offers comprehensive and affordable dementia care services, including home-based care, centre-based day care and nursing home care. Singapore Citizens or Permanent Residents who meet our admission criteria may be eligible for financial assistance.

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