Caring for a person with dementia – the role of a live-in-carer

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10 August 2012

Caring for a person with dementia – the role of a live-in-carer

Dr Rekha Elaswarapu, Ph.D. MIHM

“I had the opportunity to attend the (Helping Hands) dementia training session recently and I have to say I was highly impressed. The session was run by Jayne who many of you may have come across. Her passion, professionalism and the knowledge was invaluable.”

Dementia affects more than 500,000 people in the UK, and an estimated 35 million worldwide. This is an age related progressive condition, and with memory loss being the key factor, it makes the person highly dependent on those caring for them.

Often people with dementia may have other debilitating physical conditions which mean they may require practical and personal care. Seeing an elderly relative gradually losing their cognitive ability and not being able to recognise their own family members can render the family members very distraught.

Caring for a person with dementia requires considerable skill, knowledge, positive attitude and a good understanding of the condition itself – basically the ‘what & why’ and how to deal with a situation.  Many older people with early stage dementia live on their own and in such cases they can become physically and emotionally isolated from the world around them.

A live-in carer may be the only contact they have with the outside world. In such situations it is vital that the live-in carer understands the person with dementia, builds a rapport with them and is sympathetic to their behaviour. A well trained carer would be able to provide care for a person with dementia in such a manner that it is personalised, safe, of high quality and maintains their dignity at all times. Helping Hands has a very intensive training programme which covers the basic training such as First aid, moving and handling, customer care etc but they also have a programme which gives a strong awareness of dementia and how to care for person with this condition.

I had the opportunity to attend the dementia training session recently and I have to say I was highly impressed. The session was run by Jayne who many of you may have come across. Her passion, professionalism and the knowledge was invaluable. Personal examples about her granddad really brought home some of the issues that the carers and family members have to contend with. The session had a good balance of clinical aspects, personal and behavioural aspects and the impact on the carers. The exercises and discussion made the issues very visual. One mantra repeated several times was ‘it is not the person who is behaving like this it is the condition’.

This certainly helps to understand and rationalise behaviour when the person with dementia repeatedly asks the same question. The balloon exercise was so powerful. I came away thinking every carer in the room should consider evaluate and celebrate their role in making a difference to the lives of people with dementia.  It is said ‘patience is a virtue’ – this couldn’t be truer for carers who care for people with dementia and ensure they live the rest of their life with dignity.

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