Do Be Patient And Flexible
For someone with dementia, their emotions and capabilities are constantly changing. You have to take things day by day and even moment by moment. As mentioned above, having a schedule for the day or week can be beneficial for your loved one, but dont expect it to go quite as planned. You are responsible for taking the appropriate action based on how the other person is feeling.
Dont: Assume Your Client Can Self
Never assume your clients with dementia can handle anything on their own. Break down activities into a series of steps, and gently remind them of steps they tend to forget or assist them with steps they are not able to complete on their own. Use visual cues and demonstrations to make tasks more manageable.
Dont Ask A Person With Short
A patient and/or loved one can construe even the simplest of conversation starters as a real question, but they honestly dont know the answer to it. This can be embarrassing and can send them back into a fogthey try their best to give an answer that makes sense to them and often produce immediate physical concerns: Im having a lot of pain, for example. A caregiver and/or family member might ask, What did you have for breakfast? and the person with memory loss doesnt remember at all. They might say earnestly, I havent had anything to eat for weeks, . So these are questions to avoid because it causes fear for the person, that they have failed. But there things you can talk about
Dont Mock Their Emotions Or Behavior
It can be difficult for those with dementia to express their true feelings. Sometimes what they express isnt even exactly how they feel, but theyre unable to do it in another way. If your loved one responds to a situation with intense emotion, dont downplay it and tell them its not a big deal or to stop acting like that. Be empathetic and understanding by digging deeper and asking why they feel a certain way. Hopefully, this will create a stronger level of comfort and trust with you.
Those with dementia often struggle with the following types of behavior:
Dos And Donts Of Dementia Care
Interacting with a loved one who has dementia can at times be challenging or confusing. The person you know and love may be behaving differently after a diagnosis of dementia or other forms of memory loss. While youll want to avoid conversations that might upset your loved one, its important to continue interacting with them in a way that honors who they are as a person. Read on for suggestions from Artis Senior Living on the dos and donts of dementia care.
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Common Frustrations & Difficulties
Communicating with a person with memory loss can be difficult, but the right strategies can bridge the gap and foster a more fulfilling relationship between the patient and/or loved one. For caregiverswhether you’re a professional or a family member caring for a loved oneits important to adopt a positive attitude to effectively communicate.
Engaging with patients and/or loved ones in an encouraging and patient manner will help minimize feelings of frustration. If you’re struggling to connect with a patient and/or loved one with memory loss, its important to know a few common frustrations and traps and how you can avoid them.
First, remind yourself that people with dementia and/or Alzheimers only have the present moment, so we can let them know that we enjoy their company. When caring for someone who has the disease, the most important thing to take care of is that persons feelings. A person with memory loss cant remember the minute before, they dont know whats going to happen in the next minute. They cant do that kind of thinking, so how they feel right now is the most important thing to pay attention to.
Common Causes Of Sleep Problems In Dementia Patients
Troubled sleep is thought to be a dementia risk factor as well as a behavioral symptom. Here are some factors that may contribute to your loved ones sleep problems:
- Brain changes. Dementia patients have steeper changes in their brains sleep architecture and their circadian rhythms, causing sleep disturbances.
- Over-the-counter medications. Some over-the-counter medications labeled PM can disrupt sleep by making patients sleep for a bit but then making them more confused or sleepy at the wrong time, Hashmi says.
- Diet. Caffeine, excess sugar , and alcohol can disrupt sleep patterns, Hashmi says.
- Electronic screens. The blue light from a computer, portable electronic devices, and television screens can delay sleep and disturb sleep patterns, Hashmi says.
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Do Pay Attention To What Works
Dementia care requires a bit of trial and error. Every time you try something that works gets them to agree to a bath a little easier, or makes them enjoy the day more make a note of it. This is a learning process for both of you, but only one of you has the ability to remember what works, so take advantage of that.
Develop Helpful Daily Routines
Having general daily routines and activities can provide a sense of consistency for an Alzheimers or dementia patient and help ease the demands of caregiving. Of course, as your loved ones ability to handle tasks deteriorates, youll need to update and revise these routines.
Keep a sense of structure and familiarity. Try to keep consistent daily times for activities such as waking up, mealtimes, dressing, receiving visitors, and bedtime. Keeping these things at the same time and place can help orientate the person with dementia. Use cues to establish the different times of dayopening the curtains in the morning, for example, or playing soothing music at night to indicate bedtime.
Involve your loved one in daily activities as much as theyre able. For example, they may not be able to tie their shoes, but may be able to put clothes in the hamper. Clipping plants in the yard may not be safe, but they may be able to weed, plant, or water.
Vary activities to stimulate different sensessight, smell, hearing, and touchand movement. For example, you can try singing songs, telling stories, dancing, walking, or tactile activities such as painting, gardening, or playing with pets.
Spend time outdoors. Going for a drive, visiting a park, or taking a short walk can be very therapeutic. Even just sitting outside can be relaxing.
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Dont: Get Frustrated Or Take Things Personally
Alzheimers and related dementias can cause mood swings, anger, and confusionwhich could potentially lead to the individual to say mean or hurtful comments. While this can be upsetting, its important not to take personal offense. In these situations, it can be easy to get frustrated and openly angry, but this is not productive.
Those living with dementia dont have control over their emotions or behavior, and as a dementia caregiver, its important to remind yourself of this when things get stressful. If you find yourself getting frustrated, try physically calming down by taking deep breaths, and then try to access the situation from a new perspective. These few simple changes can change your mindset, give you patience, and protect your relationship as a caregiver.
Dont Talk Around A Person With Dementia As If He Or She Isnt There
Try this with a friend to see how it feels, ask them to speak for and about you. It will make you feel like a non-person. It will make you feel like there is no point in you being there. It will make retreating into yourself or lashing out feel like the only options. That is the last thing we want for our loved one with dementia. Join in their reality and bring them into yours.
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How To Connect With The Person
Communicating with a person with late-stage Alzheimers disease can take effort and patience. Though that persons ability to respond may be limited, it is important to continue to interact:
- Continue to visit with the person even if responses are limited.
- Try to speak calmly and slowly be aware of the tone and volume of your voice.
- Consider sharing familiar stories with the person.
- Make eye contact, say the persons name and smile.
- Use other methods of communication besides speaking, such as gentle touching or massage.
- Have the person listen to music or calming nature sounds.
Learn more about how to communicate with a person who has Alzheimer’s disease.
What To Do About Swallowing Problems
As Alzheimer’s disease progresses to later stages, the person may no longer be able to chew and swallow easily. This is a serious problem. Difficulty with swallowing may lead to choking or cause food or liquid to go into the lungs, which is known as aspiration. This can cause pneumonia, which can lead to death.
The following suggestions may help with swallowing:
- Make sure to cut food into small pieces and that it is soft enough for the person to eat.
- Grind or blend food to make it easier to eat.
- Offer soft foods, such as yogurt, applesauce, mashed avocado, sweet potatoes, and bananas.
- Don’t use a straw, which may cause more swallowing problems. Instead, have the person drink small sips from a cup.
- Offer drinks of different temperatures warm, cold, and room temperatureto see which might be easiest for the person to drink.
- Don’t hurry the person. He or she needs time to chew and swallow each mouthful before taking another bite.
- Encourage the person to feed themselves as much as possible during meals. If the person needs support, try using overhand, underhand, or direct hand feeding approaches.
- Don’t feed a person who is drowsy or lying down. He or she should be in an upright, seated position during the meal and for at least 20 minutes after the meal.
- Say “swallow” to remind him or her to swallow.
- Find out if the person’s pills can be crushed or taken in another form.
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Caregiving In The Middle Stages Of Alzheimers Or Dementia
As your loved ones Alzheimers disease or dementia symptoms progress, theyll require more and more careand youll need more and more support as their caregiver. Your loved one will gradually experience more extensive memory loss, may become lost in familiar settings, no longer be able to drive, and fail to recognize friends and family. Their confusion and rambling speech can make communicating more of a challenge and they may experience disturbing mood and behavior changes along with sleep problems.
Youll need to take on more responsibilities as your loved one loses independence, provide more assistance with the activities of daily living, and find ways of coping with each new challenge. Balancing these tasks with your other responsibilities requires attention, planning, and lots of support.
Ask for help. You cannot do it all alone. Its important to reach out to other family members, friends, or volunteer organizations to help with the daily burden of caregiving. Schedule frequent breaks throughout the day to pursue your hobbies and interests and stay on top of your own health needs. This is not being neglectful or disloyal to your loved one. Caregivers who take regular time away not only provide better care, they also find more satisfaction in their caretaking roles.
Dementia Care Dos & Donts: Dealing With Dementia Behavior Problems
Mid-to-late stage dementia often presents challenging behavior problems. The anger, confusion, fear, paranoia and sadness that people with the disease are experiencing can result in aggressive and sometimes violent actions.
Learn more about which strategies are most effective in dementia behavior management.
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Dos In Communicating With An Alzheimer Patient
- Always keep a friendly, soft tone of voice even if you notice the patient is becoming somewhat aggressive in communication. It is the disease doing it, not the person.
- Always observe the non-verbal communication of the patient. For example, someone licking his/her lips frequently might be thirsty, but might not be able to express that verbally.
- Try to frequently discuss familiar things, events, people. Alzheimer patients struggle with great brain damages, so they need constant reminders about familiar things. Help the patient remember dear memories or talk about family members and events that represent a pleasant memory for the patient.
- Smile often when talking, and speak in a slow and calm manner
- Praise the person as soon as possible. This will help raising their self-confidence, which is extremely important for a person struggling with such a disease
- Be patient and wait for the answer. Patients with Alzheimers need time to process information and they need time to express themselves. Communication will not go as fast as with a healthy person, so just be patient.
- Maintaining eye contact while talking is important. This will help the patient assimilate better what you are talking about, and maintaining eye contact is a sign of friendliness and kindness in any communication.
Dont Forget How You Would Like To Be Treated
If you’re not sure how to treat someone with Alzheimer’s disease or what to say, make this your default approach: “How would I like to be treated?” This approach serves well as a guide for how to treat others with the grace, love, and respect that they deserve, no matter what their deficits or abilities.
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Dementia: Dos And Donts To Take Care Of Your Loved One As A Guardian
Over six million Americans have Alzheimers, the most common form of dementia. This diagnosis can be devastating and challenging for families, as they watch their loved ones mental and physical capabilities deteriorate over time.
Caring for someone with dementia takes extra effort, patience, and understanding. If you are currently serving as a guardian for your loved one, here is a list of dementia dos and donts.
Dont Neglect Your Own Needs
By always focusing so diligently on your loved ones needs throughout the progression of their dementia, its easy to fall into the trap of neglecting your own welfare. If youre not getting the physical and emotional support you need, you wont be able to provide the best level of care, and youre more likely to become overwhelmed and suffer burnout.
Plan for your own care. Visit your doctor for regular checkups and pay attention to the signs and symptoms of excessive stress. Its easy to abandon the people and activities you love when youre mired in caregiving, but you risk your health and peace of mind by doing so. Take time away from caregiving to maintain friendships, social contacts, and professional networks, and pursue the hobbies and interests that bring you joy.
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Dont Say No Dont Or Cant
One of the biggest mistakes in dealing with patients and/or loved ones with memory loss is being negative and telling them that they cant do something. Words like no,” don’t, or can’t create resistance. This comes up regularly with family members when the patient and/or loved one might be still driving, and the caregiver and/or family member has made the decision to stop them from driving. One should never say, You can’t drive anymore. They can still technically drive , and they can get very combative when told no. A way to counter this is to say, I know you still can drive, that’s not even a question, but you know what happened the other day? I was out on the highway and this car cut me off, and I had to make a split-second decision it was really scary Its likely they will say, You know what? I’m having a little trouble with those decisions too. The issue isn’t the mechanical driving, it has more to do with comprehension, and many times this answer works much better than, You can’t drive anymore, which can be construed as confrontational.
You may find a patient and/or loved one up too early or confused about time. Instead of using messages such as, Youre up too early, you need to go to bed, try leading with statements such as, You know, I’m getting sleepy. Id like a little snack before I go to bed, and then gesture for the patient and/or loved one to sit with you.
Dont: Engage In Lengthy Explanations
Dont give your clients too many choices, as this will only serve to frustrate and confuse them. Instead, focus on yes-or-no questions and use actual names of people and places rather than pronouns and abbreviations. State your message clearly by using small words and sentences. Speak slowly and distinctly, asking simple, answerable questions.
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Tips To Help Manage Dementia Sleep Problems
There are ways to help your loved on get a better nights sleep, Hashmi says.
Avoid things that disrupt sleep.
- Limit caffeine, alcohol, and sugar near bedtime.
- Avoid over-the-counter sleep aids. Instead, Hashmi suggests you talk to a doctor about whether melatonin might help your loved one sleep.
- Remove electronics from the bedroom.
Create a routine that supports sleep.
- Make sure your loved one gets enough daytime light to help with circadian rhythms.
- Change into comfortable clothing, signaling nighttime.
- Consider warm milk, a hot shower, relaxing music or reading before bed.
- Pick a bedtime not too late and stick with it every night.
When The Person With Alzheimers Can’t Move
During the later stages of Alzheimers disease, a person may lose the ability to move and spend much of his or her time in a bed or chair. This lack of movement can cause problems such as pressure sores or bedsores, and stiffness of the arms, hands, and legs.
If the person with Alzheimers cannot move around on his or her own, contact a home health aide, physical therapist, or nurse for help. These professionals can show you how to move the person safely, such as changing positions in bed or in a chair.
A physical therapist can also show you how to move the person’s body joints using range-of-motion exercises. During these exercises, you hold the person’s arms or legs, one at a time, and move and bend it several times a day. Movement prevents stiffness of the arms, hands, and legs. It also prevents pressure sores or bedsores.
To make the person more comfortable:
To keep from hurting yourself when moving someone with Alzheimer’s disease:
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