Caring for a loved one who is suffering from dementia can be extremely difficult. It’s understandable if you get frustrated; after all, some of the common symptoms include mood swings, memory loss and severe changes in personality and behavior, which can happen quickly and change from moment to moment, all of which can make interacting with and caring for them very challenging. Fortunately, there are a few things that you can do to make interacting with and caring for someone who has dementia less frustrating for both of you.
Ways to Deal With Dementia
The following tips will allow you to deal more effectively with loved ones who are suffering from dementia:
- Be positive – Individuals with dementia often display confusion, which can cause fear, it’s important that you set a positive tone for your interaction through your attitude and body language. Speak in a respectful and pleasant manner and use your voice, physical touch and facial expressions to show feelings of affection so that they are more comfortable in their interaction with you. If you are trying to provide care, such as combing their hair, explain what you are going to do and how you are going to do it. It is also helpful to have them put their hand on top of yours so they are a part of the process. This technique is commonly referred to as the hand over hand method.
- Limit distractions – Individuals with dementia are easily distracted and can have a hard time following storylines. Limit distractions and extraneous stimulation from the surrounding area. For example, mute or turn off the TV, move away from mirrors or windows, or move to a quieter area to speak.
- Get their attention — Always address them by name, tell them your name and relation to them and why you are there. Get on their level if they are sitting down; always approach them from the front. Maintain eye contact when you speak and gently hold their hand if they will allow you to do so. This will help limit confusion caused by any memory loss, limit their fear, as they may not recognize you, and help draw their attention to what you’re saying.
- Speak clearly — Speak slowly and distinctly. Simply repeat what you said if they didn’t understand, but don’t speak louder as if they didn’t hear it. When you ask questions, only ask one question at a time and make them easy-to-answer yes-or-no questions.
- Be resident — When waiting for a reply, be resident. Individuals with dementia may understand your question but often have a hard time finding the right words. Pay close attention to body language and nonverbal cues. Because they may not use the right words, listen to the underlying meaning and watch their mannerisms.
- Be reassuring –– Interact in a reassuring manner, whether you’re greeting them, caring for them asking questions or responding. This will help to limit any fear or confusion that they might feel.
- Don’t ask short-term questions — If you’re trying to engage in conversation, ask questions about the distant past that they will remember, not recent events that they may have forgotten. The more you know about them, their likes and dislikes and their past will make conversation much easier.
If you have a loved one who is suffering from dementia, then you’ll want to get them the highest quality professional care possible. For information about our memory care community, be sure to contact us at Marjorie House today.