Repetitive Speech Or Actions
People with dementia will often repeat a word, statement, question, or activity over and over. While this type of behavior is usually harmless for the person with dementia, it can be annoying and stressful to caregivers. Sometimes the behavior is triggered by anxiety, boredom, fear, or environmental factors.
- Provide plenty of reassurance and comfort, both in words and in touch.
- Try distracting with a snack or activity.
- Avoid reminding them that they just asked the same question. Try ignoring the behavior or question, and instead try refocusing the person into an activity such as singing or âhelpingâ you with a chore.
- Donât discuss plans with a confused person until immediately prior to an event.
- You may want to try placing a sign on the kitchen table, such as, âDinner is at 6:30â or âLois comes home at 5:00â to remove anxiety and uncertainty about anticipated events.
- Learn to recognize certain behaviors. An agitated state or pulling at clothing, for example, could indicate a need to use the bathroom.
Do Not Ignore Physical Abuse
As much as one needs to be tolerant, kind, forgiving, and patient with older adults who have dementia, it does not mean that they have to excuse the patients when they become physically aggressive and allow the abuse to continue. It is not to be accepted, and if it happens, it is best to alert your doctor who will work on the solution to make sure it stops. It will keep both the patient and caregiver in safety.
From physical manifestations to angry outbursts, taking care of an individual with dementia may not be easy. However, working with the tips above can help caregivers and loved ones to get through it. Remember that there are plenty of treatments, interventions and special care providers who can help therefore, you should never be shy about getting help when you need it.
Tips For Changes In Communication And Behavior For People With Dementia
Communication can be hard for people with Alzheimers and related dementias because they have trouble remembering things. They also can become agitated and anxious, even angry. In some forms of dementia, language abilities are affected such that people have trouble finding the right words or have difficulty speaking. You may feel frustrated or impatient, but it is important to understand that the disease is causing the change in communication skills. To help make communication easier, you can:
- Reassure the person. Speak calmly. Listen to his or her concerns and frustrations. Try to show that you understand if the person is angry or fearful.
- Allow the person to keep as much control in his or her life as possible.
- Respect the persons personal space.
- Build quiet times into the day, along with activities.
- Keep well-loved objects and photographs around the house to help the person feel more secure.
- Remind the person who you are if he or she doesnt remember, but try not to say, Dont you remember?
- Encourage a two-way conversation for as long as possible.
- Try distracting the person with an activity, such as a familiar book or photo album, if you are having trouble communicating with words.
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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.
When Does Someone With Dementia Need To Go In A Home
Alzheimers disease patients in the late stages become unable to function and finally lose control of their movements. They require care and attention throughout the clock. In addition, they are unable to communicate, even sharing that they are in pain, and are therefore more susceptible to infections, including pneumonia.
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What Questions Do They Ask To Test For Dementia
Tips For Helping A Person With Dementia Grieve
If you are caring for a loved one with dementia, the grief journey for both of you will be a little more complicated. It may be that youve lost a mother, but your father, who suffers from dementia, has lost a wife. How do you navigate him through his loss a loss that he may not always remember while also walking down the road of grief yourself?
Dr. Alan Wolfelt, a nationally respected grief counselor, author, and educator, has helped many families navigate the difficult journey through grief over the years. Because of his extensive background in helping families, he has identified key ways you can help someone with dementia mourn a loss. These helpful tips will empower you to help your loved one with dementia while also allowing you to grieve your own loss.
Dr. Wolfelt states: For people with dementia, the grieving process grows more complicated. Their brains, the traffic control centers for thoughts and emotions, literally become clogged, creating dead ends, jams and crashes. Grief is a physical, cognitive, emotional, social and spiritual journey, yet the brain is where all those aspects of the self originate and traverse. Grief is always difficult, but when someones brain is no longer working well, it is even more challenging, both for the person with memory loss and for his or her family and caregivers.
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Tips For Home Safety For People With Dementia
As a caregiver or family member to a person with Alzheimers or related dementias, you can take steps to make the home a safer place. Removing hazards and adding safety features around the home can help give the person more freedom to move around independently and safely. Try these tips:
- If you have stairs, make sure there is at least one handrail. Put carpet or safety grip strips on stairs, or mark the edges of steps with brightly colored tape so they are more visible.
- Insert safety plugs into unused electrical outlets and consider safety latches on cabinet doors.
- Clear away unused items and remove small rugs, electrical cords, and other items the person may trip over.
- Make sure all rooms and outdoor areas the person visits have good lighting.
- Remove curtains and rugs with busy patterns that may confuse the person.
- Remove or lock up cleaning and household products, such as paint thinner and matches.
The Challenges And Rewards Of Alzheimers Care
Caring for a person with Alzheimers disease or dementia can often seem to be a series of grief experiences as you watch your loved ones memories disappear and skills erode. The person with dementia will change and behave in different, sometimes disturbing or upsetting ways. For both caregivers and their patients, these changes can produce an emotional wallop of confusion, frustration, and sadness.
As the disease advances through the different stages, your loved ones needs increase, your caregiving and financial responsibilities become more challenging, and the fatigue, stress, and isolation can become overwhelming. At the same time, the ability of your loved one to show appreciation for all your hard work only diminishes. Caregiving can literally seem like a thankless task.
For many, though, a caregivers journey includes not only huge challenges, but also many rich, life-affirming rewards.
Caregiving is a pure expression of love. Caring for a person with Alzheimers or dementia connects you on a deeper level. If you were already close, it can bring you closer. If you werent close before, it can help you resolve differences, find forgiveness, and build new, warmer memories with your family member.
Caregiving can teach younger family members the importance of caring, compassion, and acceptance. Caregiving for someone with dementia is such a selfless act. Despite the stress, demands, and heartache, it can bring out the best in us to serve as role models for our children.
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Moving To A Care Home
If the persons needs become too great for you to manage at home, you may need to consider other long-term options. If youre becoming exhausted or the person with dementia is becoming harder to care for, a care home might be the best option for you both.
A move to a care home can be a difficult decision, but there are limits to the care you can provide.
If the person you care for is moving into a care home, familiar furniture, belongings or music can help them feel more settled.
How Do You Get Assessed For Dementia
A physical examination will be performed by the doctor, and tests such as a blood test and urine test may be ordered to rule out other potential reasons of memory issues. In addition, you will be asked to complete a memory or cognitive exam to see whether you have any issues with your memory or ability to think effectively.
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Do Try To Be Forgiving And Patient
Do not forget that dementia is the condition that results in irrational behavior and causes dementia sufferers to act the way they do. The patients demand plenty of patience and forgiveness from the people looking after them. Have the heart to let things go instead of carrying grudges around for something that the patient may not be in control of.
Do Keep Eye Contact When Speaking
Communicating with a dementia patient requires a lot of patience, especially during later stages of dementia. It is vital to ensure that you talk in a place that has good lighting, a place that is quiet and without too many distractions. Do not try and stand over the person you are talking to, but rather try to be at their level and keep eye contact at all times. Take care to make sure that body language is relaxed and open. Prepare to spend quality time with the person so that they do not feel rushed or like they are a bother.
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Planning For The Future: Tips For Caregivers
Making health care decisions for someone who is no longer able to do so can be overwhelming. Thats why it is important to plan health care directives in advance. To help plan for the future, you can:
- Start discussions early with your loved one so they can be involved in the decision-making process.
- Get permission in advance to talk to the doctor or lawyer of the person youre caring for, as needed. There may be questions about care, a bill, or a health insurance claim. Without consent, you may not be able to get needed information.
- Consider legal and financial matters, options for in-home care, long-term care, and funeral and burial arrangements.
Learning about your loved ones disease will help you know what to expect as the dementia progresses and what you can do.
Find An Experienced Dementia Care Counselorfor Both Of You
One of Johnstons studies found that when caregivers and people with dementia sought treatment for depression, they gained greater access to care, services and support. Caregivers should have someone to talk to regularly, who can provide support, educate them about the illness and coach them on how to cope as it progresses, says Johnston.
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How Do You Diagnose Dementia
How To Get A Diagnosis Of Dementia
There are ten red flags. This is a list of frequent dementia symptoms that you should be aware of. It is critical to make an accurate diagnosis. The importance of consulting with a doctor to receive a diagnosis at an early stage cannot be overstated. Doctors encounter a lot of resistance. Some people may be apprehensive about the prospect of going to the doctor.
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Supporting Families And Friends On Visits
John used to visit his longstanding friend George in a care home every Friday. He always joined in the activity group and seemed to enjoy this. The activity organiser found his involvement really helpful as other residents enjoyed his gentle charm and sense of humour. However, one week the activity organiser suddenly realised that John and George rarely had time on their own, and asked if John might prefer for George to be assisted to go to his room. Johns face lit up and he said that he would love to enjoy a bit of time just chatting on their own like they used to.
If you are working in a care home or a hospital, dont assume that families or friends find it easy to know what to say or do when they visit. You might need to help by making suggestions about things to do together or where they might want to spend time. Encourage visitors to feel at home and direct them to tea-making facilities if these are provided. Do make it clear that they are welcome to use the dining room, the garden or a quieter lounge area for a visit.
You might also want to discuss the possibility of a relative taking their loved one home for a visit, and what the pros and cons of this might be. For some residents a trip out to the family home can provide a wonderful change of scene. For others, it might be quite a tiring and stressful experience, particularly if the person then doesnt want to return to the care home.
Do Not Shy Away From Asking For Help
No one may have all the answers especially when it comes to taking care of a person with dementia. Try doing research on how their behavior changes and what needs to be done to help them live their lives without too many complications. Hire help when it becomes too much as it also ensures that you do not become too frustrated or drained. When you have multiple family members who can help, ask everyone to pitch in and look after the patient so that you can get some personal space to breathe and re-energize when it is your time to look after the patient. When you feel like you can no longer look after your loved one at your own home, it may be time to consider assisted living. In such case, look into dementia care homes that can provide specially trained professionals.
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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.
Getting A Needs Assessment
If you find you need help to manage everyday tasks like washing, dressing or cooking, it’s advisable to get a needs assessment from the social services department of your local council.
Ideally, this assessment should take place face to face. It’s a good idea to have a relative or friend with you if you’re not confident explaining your situation. They can also take notes for you.
If the needs assessment identifies you need help such as a carer to help with personal care , meals delivered to your home , or a personal alarm, you will then have a financial assessment to see how much you’ll contribute to the cost of your care.
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