Caregiving for a mentally challenged loved one is not an easy task. It entails a huge amount of responsibility, risk, constant attention and a rather large amount of challenges that will change each day. There are many common problem areas however, that the majority of patients with a mental disability encounter. Knowing how to handle these situations will make life considerably easier for them and also for you.

Dressing and mobility

Most mentally challenged individuals find dressing by themselves, a rather tedious task. Choosing loose, light and airy clothing items for them with easy access such as in the case of zippers and snaps or even buttons that are not too hard to manoeuver, will help them a lot. If they have a closet for their personal use, make sure that there is not too much of a choice in there because this could lead to confusion. Sometimes, this could also cause “layering” which is an instance where the individual keeps on wearing layer after layer even if they do no need it. Assisting them during dressing, like giving them one item of clothing at a time, in the right order of wearing will help them. Ensure that no dirty laundry is in the room and if a person wants to repeat wearing the same thing, as long as hygiene will not be an issue, allow it. Mobility can become increasingly challenging for most patients, which is why, physiotherapy at home is of utmost importance. These exercises will help their mobility and strengthen their main muscle groups so that they can become more independent and mobile.

Hallucinations and inappropriate behavior

Hallucinations are things which are seen or heard by the afflicted person which cannot be sensed by others. They also can usually suffer from delusions or paranoia. In such instances, try to calm them down and explain to them that you are not able to see or hear any such thing, and that they are safe. Be sure to control the tone of voice and never try to argue or convince them that they are at fault for imagining this. Remember it is all part of their condition. However, if the condition has worsened to this degree, you might really want to consult some good dementia care homes for their support. They may also display inappropriate behavior at times such as undressing in public spaces or make lascivious remarks. Sexually inappropriate behavior is a given in mental conditions, so bear with them, and create a method of handling the matter or avoiding it. Also, and more importantly, identify and avoid “triggers” that will cause these mood changes.

Handling violent temper outbursts

Outbursts, especially verbal ones like cursing or even threatening as well as extreme anger is not uncommon. Stay calm and composed and console them. Behave in a manner that justifies their outburst and then divert their attention to something positive.

Resistance to daily activities

Patients might become resistant to carrying out their daily tasks like dressing, having a bath or eating. What we don’t see is that they react this way, because they feel intimidated by these tasks and getting told to do them. Lay out each task in a series of steps and show them how to do it. Give them ample time and remember that all these issues are caused because it is the brain’s way of trying to cope with gradually declining brain functions. It is not the person’s fault.


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