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Dementia - Maintaining your loved one's Dignity

If your loved one feels that their value as a human being is not essential, this can stop them from being comfortable during this challenging time suffering from a form of Dementia. Without their dignity, they would feel dehumanized leading them to give up mentally leading them not to want to hang on to fight the disease for as long as possible.

There are 8 factors related to dignity identified by the Social Care Social Care Institute for Excellence

1. Choice and control.

2. Communication.

3. Eating and nutritional care.

4. Pain management.

5. Personal hygiene.

6. Practical assistance.

7. Privacy.

8. Social inclusion

1. Ensure that your loved one is involved in any decision that affects their care.

You want your loved one to have a voice in their care as long as their able. They should be a participant in the conversation, not an observer. Once your loved one reaches the later stages of the disease, it’s essential that they have a roadmap for their care in place. My mom wrote her wishes down for her and her belonging, and I made sure I followed them to the letter.

2. Ensure that you continue to speak to your loved one with respect.

Some people think that it’s okay to speak with someone like a child. WRONG. If they are your loved one, their either your spouse or your parent. They are suffering from a disease. Yes, as the disease progresses, it will be harder to communicate. Try nonverbal communication or speak slower. I never talked down to my mom or talk to her like she was a child. There is a level of respect that should be maintained.

3. Ensure that you make mealtime a pleasant experience.

Imagine you at a restaurant and your served something that doesn’t look appealing. Would you eat it? I think not. Your loved one is ill. This doesn’t mean that they will eat anything that you place in front of them. It’s hard enough to get your loved one to eat in the first place. So, make sure it’s a healthy balanced meal that’s visually appealing.

4. Ensure that people living with pain have the right help and medication to reduce suffering.

Being that your loved one or your spouse, they may not want to burden you with complaints of pain. This is because they want to maintain their independence. It’s our responsibility as a family caregiver to notice when something isn’t right or appears off in their health to check on them and give them medication or get them to the doctor if needed.

5. Ensure that your loved one can maintain their usual standards of personal hygiene.

I know that this is hard depending on the stage of dementia that they're in. I’m my case with my mom. When I would bathe and dress her, I would make sure that the door to the bathroom was closed and she was always covered. I tried my best to ensure that she was put together.

6. Ensure that your loved one can maintain their independence.

When your loved one says, their alright believe them. Don’t try to be overbearing. Think of it this way. They have been independent all their lives, and now they may not be able to accept that they are going into that next stage of life. Let them know you’ll be there when they need you, and observe in case you have to step in.

7. Ensure that you respect your loved one’s privacy and personal space.

Respecting people’s personal space and privacy is essential. Even though my mom was ill and didn’t always verbally communicate with me, I respected her space and privacy. For some reason, I thought that I could still get in trouble. I would pick up something of her vanity and asked mom could I use this?

8. Your loved one needs to continue to be socially active for as long as they can.

My mom still managed to go to church and do her volunteer work there for as long as she could, when she was diagnosed with dementia. Once she was at the point of being homebound, she communicated that with her husband. She was a very private person, so she didn’t have people hanging out in her house.

If you follow these steps you would be going in the right direction of assisting your loved one to maintain their dignity despite their dementia diagnosis.

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