Things Not To Say To Someone With Dementia
Speaking to an elderly loved one with dementia can be difficult and emotionally draining. Alzheimers and dementia can lead to conversations that dont make sense, are inappropriate or uncomfortable, and may upset a family caregiver. However, over time, its important to adapt to the seniors behavior, and understand that their condition doesnt change who they are.
For senior caregivers, its important to always respond with patience. Here are some things to remember not to say to someone with dementia, and what you can say instead.
1. Youre wrong
For experienced caregivers, this one may seem evident. However, for someone who hasnt dealt with loss of cognitive function before, it can be hard to go along with something a loved one says that clearly isnt true. Theres no benefit to arguing, though, and its best to avoid upsetting a senior with dementia, who is already in a vulnerable emotional state due to confusion.
Instead, change the subject.
Its best to distract, not disagree. If an elderly loved one makes a wrong comment, dont try to fight them on it just change the subject and talk about something else ideally, something pleasant, to change their focus. There are plenty of things not to say to someone with dementia, but if theres one to remember, its anything that sounds like youre wrong.
2. Do you remember?
Instead, say: I remember
3. They passed away.
4. I told you
Instead, repeat what you said.
Ways To Calm Agitation In A Person Living With Dementia
Senior woman with her hands on her head looking down sitting in a park bench with her daughter consoling her
While a person living with dementia may be still very much themselves, there are times when an always-gentle parent or a kind and loving spouse will suddenly become angry and lash out. What can you do to help?
The answer is to meet them where they are: stay calm, offer respect and validation, and gently assist them in re-focusing.
Here are ten well-tested tips for calming agitation in a loved one living with dementia.
Agitation and aggression are contagious. When you are talking to someone who is upset, it is natural to feel upset yourselfpsychologists call this phenomenon mirroring, and you can use it to your benefit.When you stop and take a deep breath to calm yourself, you are demonstrating calmness. This helps to make your loved one feel safe and reassured. Take a step back and see if you can identify a cause for the agitation, for example, a tense mood in the room. Remember that your loved one is not trying to give you a hard timehe or she is struggling as much as you are.
Try saying, That must be frightening! Would you like me to go check why he is there?
Other bridging phrases are:
- It would be so lovely to do that.
Adult daughter visiting elderly mother.
Goncalo Costa/Mangostar – stock.adobe.com
Do Not Try To Stop A Person Who Wants To Leave A Room
Staying in one place for long periods may result in behavior problems in the dementia patient. It is essential to have a safe environment where they can enjoy the outdoors without any problem. When someone tries to leave a room, do not force them to stop. Doing this may result in an extreme reaction such as severe distress or injuries.
Instead, it is best to accompany the patient so that they are safe. You can even suggest going for a drive around the block so that they can experience a new environment for a short period. If they do not want company, just let them go but stay close by to make sure that the patient is safe at all times.
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New Research Shows That Nondrug Therapies Are More Effective
According to a new study looking at more than 160 articles, nondrug interventions appeared to be more effective than medications in reducing agitation and aggression in people with dementia. Researchers found that three nonpharmacologic interventions were more effective than usual care: multidisciplinary care, massage and touch therapy, and music combined with massage and touch therapy.
For physical aggression, outdoor activities were more efficacious than antipsychotic medications . For verbal aggression, massage and touch therapy were more effective than care as usual. As a result of this study, the authors recommend prioritization of nonpharmacologic interventions over medications, a treatment strategy also recommended by the practice guidelines of the American Psychiatric Association.
Finding The Best Help For Sundowning Individuals
Tips and tricks aside, the best thing you can do to keep someone with dementia calm every night is to work with the best team of caregivers. You need professionals who dedicate their time to ensuring these individuals get thememory careand therapy they deserve.
At Sunflower Communities, we do everything to prevent sundowning episodes with daily therapies, regular schedules, and custom care plans for individuals experiencing mid-range to severe dementia. If you or a loved one need a place for outstanding memory care, reach out to us today.
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Tips On How To Calm Down Someone With Dementia
If youre caring for someone with dementia you may have experienced the very frustrating moments when they become distressed and begin acting out. This could look like screaming, banging, throwing things, etc.
We get many requests from family members about how they can help someone with dementia or Alzheimers disease. Especially if they are demonstrating aggressive behavior.
They realize that they cannot take care of their loved one like they used to and they want to do everything in their power to make sure that they can live a long, happy life as well.
If you are at this point with your loved ones life, I am here to tell you that you can certainly help.
Just remember that there are many contributing factors to why someone with dementia or Alzheimers may be agitated or lashing out. Depression and anxiety are two of the most common reasons.
It is estimated that 50% of people with dementia experience some symptoms of depression, which can decrease quality of life, worsen dementia symptoms and increase carer stress. Anxiety is also common in people with dementia and has a similarly negative impact.
What can you do to calm someone with dementia down? The answers are as unique as each individual person. But there are some general tips that I can give you.
The list of dementia behaviors that are common include:
If You’re Looking After Someone With Dementia
Your needs as a carer are as important as the person you’re caring for.
To help care for yourself:
- join a local carers’ support group or a specialist dementia organisation â for more details, call the Carers Direct helpline on 0300 123 1053 lines are open 8am to 9pm Monday to Friday, and 11am to 4pm at weekends
- call Dementia UK’s Admiral Nurse Dementia Helpline free on 0800 888 6678 to talk to a registered specialist dementia nurse lines are open 9am to 9pm Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm at weekends
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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.
What Causes These Behaviours
There are many reasons why behaviours change. Every person with dementia is an individual who will react to circumstances in their own way. Sometimes the behaviour may be related to changes taking place in the brain.
In other instances, there may be events or factors in the environment triggering the behaviour. In some situations a task, such as taking a bath, may be too complex. Or the person may not be feeling well.
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How To Calm A Dementia Patient
If the measures youve taken to prevent agitation fail and you need to calm a dementia patient, here are some tips to help:
Start by saying one of the following phrases: May I help you? Do you have time to help me? Youre safe here. Everything is under control. I apologize. Im sorry that you are upset. I know its hard. I will stay with you until you feel better.
- Involve the Person in Activities
- Change the Environment thats Causing Agitation
- Find Outlets for the Persons Energy
- Consult a Doctor or Specialist
If you regularly have difficulting caring for a patient who is suffering from dementia, you may want to consider hiring a home caregiver who specializes in dementia care. They would be able to help reduce stress, agitation, and anxiety in the patient, reducing the chances of outbursts or other problems.
What Triggers The Agitation And How To Calm Down The Patient
Sudden confusing states can cause agitation for the patients of dementia. Even when told about the place they have been brought to, the senior might not understand or forget about it in minutes and get inquisitive again. Not getting satisfactory answers makes them more agitated. What triggers the agitation differs from person to person. For some, its a sudden change in the surroundings or meeting new people. Sometimes its the change in daily routines or improper medication, dehydration, or any kind of physical discomfort. This agitation can also be caused by the sudden confrontation with too many people. The inability to recognize faces and remember names causes confusion and leads to agitation.
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They Wake Up A Lot During The Night To Use The Loo And I’m Worried They May Get Lost Or Confused Should I Wake Up Too To Help Them
It is normal that older people will need to use the loo more often during the night. This can be difficult if a person also has dementia as they might forget why they’re up, where the toilet is or that they should go back to bed. Start by looking at your parents drinking and eating habits. If they are eating and drinking large amounts in the evening this will increase the need for them to visit the toilet. Limit their intake from late afternoon and enjoy a main meal at lunch. Next make the route to and from the toilet as clear as possible by using signs and plug-in nightlights. Try using pictures if it helps. It might also help to make the lights in the bathroom motion activated for when they get there. If you are still worried or you find they still get lost, it may be that you will have to help them. A monitor or bed-exit sensor will help you to wake up when you need to.
Find The Underlying Cause
Try to really pay attention to your loved one, think carefully about the circumstances, and consider any underlying concerns that might be upsetting him or her. For example, anger over your choosing a sweater for him or her could be caused by worries about a lack of independence. Being able to figure out if some real concern is triggering outbursts means you can address the problem and reassure your loved one.
Easing stress and anxiety is an essential part of caring for your loved one. Aging in place can present a few challenges for seniors living with dementia. However, they can still live independently at home with the help of professional dementia care. Windermere families can rely on Home Care Assistance to provide their elderly loved ones with mental and social stimulation, timely medication reminders, assistance with meal prep, and much more. Our caregivers are available around the clock to help your loved one live a happier and healthier life.
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Get Qualified Dementia Home Care By The Leading Home Care Providers In Phoenix Az
Looking for quality, affordable home care for a loved one suffering from dementia? Call and talk to one of our staff at Devoted Guardians. We are one of Arizonas largest home care providers with personnel trained in dementia care. We offer daily 24-hour living assistance, including nighttime watch, and personal care.
Devoted Guardians’ Response to COVID-19
Devoted Guardians is actively monitoring the progression of the coronavirus, COVID-19, to ensure that we have the most accurate and latest information on the threat of the virus. As you know, this situation continues to develop rapidly as new cases are identified in our communities and our protocols will be adjusted as needed.
While most cases of COVID-19 are mild, causing only fever and cough, a very small percentage of cases become severe and may progress particularly in the elderly and people with underlying medical conditions. Because this is the primary population that Devoted Guardians serves, we understand your concerns and want to share with you how our organization is responding to the threat of COVID-19.
We are following updates and procedures from the Centers for Disease Control State Department of Health, local and county authorities, the Home Care Association of America and other agencies and resources. Our response and plans may adjust according to the recommendations from these organizations.
Dont Infantilize The Person
Dont talk down to the person or treat them like an infant. This is sometimes called “elderspeak” and it’s got to go.
Have you ever observed how people talk to babies? They might use a high pitched tone and get close to the babys face. While this is appropriate for infants, its not fitting for communicating with adults. Regardless of how much the person with dementia can or cannot understand, treat them with honor and use a respectful tone of voice.
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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.
Remember: Your Needs As A Caregiver Matter Too
Dealing with dementia behaviors can quickly wear out a caregiver or family member, causing caregiver burnout.
If your loved ones dementia behaviors have progressed to the point where you cannot manage them alone, help is available. Senior care options like home care or memory care can help relieve some of the caregiving burden while also helping to keep your loved one safe.
If you are feeling resentment, anxiety, or depression, seek help. A caregiver support group, counselor, friend, or family member can offer camaraderie and advice.
Other families, other caregivers, are going through the same thing, Hashmi says. They have a lot of common challenges and common solutions to share. And often those are the most effective, because theyre going through exactly the same process.
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Why Not Try This
Challenging dementia behaviors can be super-stressful. This basic approach can help stretch your patience and move you both toward a more peaceful quality of life.
Best of all, you can start using the Why-This, Try-This approach right away, even if youve been responding differently before.
To make these steps simple to refer to, Ive compiled a free downloadable PDF, 7 Steps to Managing Difficult Dementia Behaviors Without Medication, A Surviving Alzheimers Cheatsheet.
Get Your Free Managing Dementia Behaviors Cheatsheet.
Questions, suggestions, or try tips that work well for you? Please post them below!
Paula Spencer Scott is the author of Surviving Alzheimers: Practical Tips and Soul-Saving Wisdom for Caregivers . You can learn more at survivingalz.com.
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Tips To Calm Down The Senior
Proper care of a senior with dementia requires monitoring their daily activities and planning their day accordingly. This enables you to prevent any trigger situations and take the senior through the day without any episodes of agitation.
- Create a calm environment: Facing loud conversations and a crowd of people triggers confusion and agitation. To prevent this, the surroundings around a senior with dementia should be calm and comfortable.
- Monitor daily activities and caregiving: Proper care should be taken of the seniors everyday routine. Every day the senior must be given their medications on time. Make sure the caregiving staff is taking care of the feeding times and enough water is being drunk by the senior to keep them hydrated and calm. Adequate sleep is a must for a person suffering from dementia, so make sure you keep the environment calm enough for the person to sleep peacefully.
- Prevent surprising events and change in routine and surroundings: Try keeping the everyday routine of the senior as similar as possible. Try avoiding sudden relocation of the patient to new places or surroundings. If the symptoms of dementia are increasing rapidly, it might be time to hire a dementia caregiving This must be done in the early stages so that the senior has time to get familiar with their caregiving assistant.
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