When you look at Care Pro Christina’s interaction with Mdm Ganesiah, a senior she cares for every week, the tight friendship between them is clear for all to see – the duo are practically inseparable. The scene today is a far cry from how it was when they first met.
The importance of routine for people with dementia
Dementia may affect a person’s ability to learn new things, which is why persons with dementia often prefer a consistent and established routine. The familiarity surrounding a routine can calm and reassure individuals living with dementia. Hence, when families are looking for additional support, it may take more time for their loved ones with dementia to get used to this new routine.
This was the case for Mdm Ganesiah when she met Care Pro Christina for the first time.
Christina fondly recalls: “I brought so many activities to her home, hoping that at least one of them will catch her attention and interest her enough to engage with me, but week after week, she refused to budge from her bed.”
While it may be discouraging, Christina never gave up. Every visit saw Christina arriving at the doorstep with a bright smile and a different activity. When Mdm Ganesiah refused to leave her bed, Christina would sit patiently by her bedside and engage in conversations, actively listening when Mdm Ganesiah chimed in, trying to figure out what rouses her interest.
As time went by, Mdm Ganesiah grew to be more familiar with Christina and her weekly morning visits. As this new routine became familiar, she felt more at ease and gradually opened up to Christina.
Breaking the ice
Through her past experience in caring for persons with dementia, Christina understands that caregiving has no one-size-fits-all solution. Just like how individuals grow from acquaintances to friends, the same applies for persons with dementia. A good step, Christina learnt from her dementia caregiving training at Alzheimer’s Disease Association, is to have a wholesome understanding of the individual — their personality, background and even the type of dementia.
Through their conversations and interactions, Christina discovered Mdm Ganesiah’s love for arts and crafts. From then on, Christina would surprise Mdm Ganesiah every week with a different craft activity. These activities made use of different art mediums and some are even festive-themed. In celebration of Mid-Autumn Festival, their latest masterpiece is a DIY lantern made from felt. Crafting has helped Mdm Ganesiah mentally and physically. Her family could see the improvement in her condition while Christina and Mdm Ganesiah continued to grow closer and build lifelong friendships.
Watch how a casual question and answer session between Christina and Mdm Ganesiah play out.
Caregiving is about using your senses
Caring for a loved one with dementia is no easy task. For Christina, it takes more patience, perseverance and a dash of creativity as she is caring for not one but numerous seniors with dementia on a regular basis.
“Patience is key”, Christina shares. “Everyone takes time to warm up to each other. Some may take longer than others, but we just have to be patient, ask the right questions, actively listen to what they have to say, and understand them as a unique individual and as a friend.”
With each new senior she meets and care for, the cycle repeats. Some seniors may be more open, while others take more time to warm up to a new face. There will be challenges while delivering care, but at the end of the day, the knowledge that she is making a positive impact on these seniors’ lives and placing a smile on their faces keeps her going.