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How To Distract Dementia Patients

Communicating Through Body Language And Physical Contact

Working with Dementia (6 of 6)

Communication is not just talking. Gestures, movement and facial expressions can all convey meaning or help you get a message across. Body language and physical contact become significant when speech is difficult for a person with dementia.

When someone has difficulty speaking or understanding, try to:

  • be patient and remain calm, which can help the person communicate more easily
  • keep your tone of voice positive and friendly, where possible
  • talk to them at a respectful distance to avoid intimidating them being at the same level or lower than they are can also help
  • pat or hold the person’s hand while talking to them to help reassure them and make you feel closer watch their body language and listen to what they say to see whether they’re comfortable with you doing this

It’s important that you encourage the person to communicate what they want, however they can. Remember, we all find it frustrating when we cannot communicate effectively, or are misunderstood.

Telling About A Death

Here are some hints for telling a person with dementia about a death:

    • Tell the news as soon as possible. They will sense that something is wrong and need information to understand, even if just for that period of time.
    • If you are too emotional to talk to them, find someone else maybe a friend or healthcare professional.
    • Choose a time to talk when the person with dementia is well rested.
    • Use short, simple sentences. Dont give too many details; this may overwhelm them.
    • Answer questions as honestly as possible.
    • Use clear words like died instead of passed away or at peace now.
    • Try not to protect the person from the truth by suggesting that the person who has died is away and will return later. This can cause worry and agitation later when the person does not return.
    • You can support them with physical touch, such as a hug or holding hands.
    • Consider involving the person with dementia in funeral planning, assigning a simple task. This will help the death be more real for them.;They may recognize the rituals around death and act appropriately.
    • Plan for someone to be with the person during services who can also take them out if they become agitated.

Prepare A Safe Working Area

People with dementia often have difficulty with visual perception and coordination. Ensure that surfaces are uncluttered with few distractions and noise. Good lighting, without glare, individual seat preferences and correct work heights are all important. If necessary, using plastic containers might help to avoid breakages. ;

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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 To Improve Bath Time

Useful Dementia Distractions for Seniors

Prepare First: Have the soap and shampoo ready, as well as a large, warm towel.

Offer a Choice between a Bath or a Shower: Some people might not have a strong preference, but for many, providing this choice can improve the outcome. A lot of water in a tub may cause fear for some, while the spraying of a shower can make others anxious.

Adjust the Time of Day: If you don’t know the person’s typical routine, find out from the family if he liked to start his day out with a shower or enjoyed a bath before bed. That’s an important routine for many people, so honoring that for a person with dementia can go a long way toward a good outcome for both the person and the caregiver.

Routine: As much as possible, stick to a routine, both as it relates to the time of day for a shower and the steps you use when helping the person bathe. Using a consistent caregiver to maintain this routine can also be very helpful to both the caregiver and the person with dementia.

Ensure a Warm Room Temperature: Ensure that the room is warm enough. A cold room plus water does not equal a positive experience.

Encourage Independence: If the person is able, ask them to wash themselves. Independence can restore a little bit of the dignity that’s lost when help is needed with bathing.

Offer a Caregiver of the Same Sex to Provide the Bath: If someone is embarrassed or becomes sexually inappropriate, offer a caregiver of the same sex to provide the shower.

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Tips For Common Behavior And Mood Changes

Aggressive & Threatening Behavior

Sometimes things can get out of control and feel very scary. These are tips and strategies for dealing with especially challenging behaviors. If you think that you or others may be in immediate danger, call 911.


The person with dementia is threatening you or acting physically violent, such as hitting, pushing, or kicking you

  • Give the person space and time to calm down.
  • Stay out of arms reach and position yourself near the exit.
  • Avoid small spaces like kitchens, bathrooms and cars.
  • Remove or secure objects that could be used as weapons.
  • Reduce background noise .
  • Keep a phone with you in case you need to call for help.
  • Go outside, to a neighbors house, or public place if needed to stay safe.
  • Take a deep breath and try to stay calm.
  • Listen.
  • Empathize/apologize: I am sorry this is so frustrating.
  • Offer reassurance: I know this is difficult. It is going to be okay, or I am here to help.
  • Give yourself a break; take time to care for your own needs.
  • Get help .
  • Tell the dispatcher your name and location and that your family member has dementia. Tell the dispatcher if a weapon is involved.

The person with dementia is angry and accusing you of something that is not true, such as stealing from or cheating on them

The person with dementia is throwing fits or having emotional outbursts, such as yelling, screaming, or banging on things

Anxiety Related to Dementia


  • Regular exercise may be another outlet for nervous energy.
  • Apathy

    Do Not Keep Correcting The Patient

    People with dementia do not like it when someone keeps correcting them every time they say something that may not be right. It makes them feel bad about themselves and can make them drift out of the conversation. Discussions should be humorous and light and one should always speak slowly and clearly using simple and short sentences to capture and keep the interest of the dementia patients.

    Recommended Reading: Senile Dementia Of The Alzheimer Type

    Reassure Them Of Their Safety

    The desire to go home is probably the same desire anyone would have if we found ourselves in a strange and unreasonable place.

    Try this instead:

    Reassure the person verbally, and possibly;with arm touches or hand-holding if this feels appropriate. Let the person know that they are;safe.

    It may help to provide reassurance that the person is still cared about. They may be living somewhere different from where they lived before, and need to know;theyre cared for.

    Social And Emotional Activities For Dementia Patients

    3 Working with Dementia How to distract and redirect (new)
  • Create a mystery bag. One of the most popular activities you can use is called Mystery Bag, or Stereognostic Bag.
  • What you need for this activity:

    • 10 pairs of wooden shapes such as cubes, rectangular cubes, prisms, spheres, and eggs
    • A cloth bag

    Start by spending a few moments having the person look and feel each shape.

    Have them observe the different forms each shape takes on when placed down on a different side. Once theyre familiar with the shapes, you can move on to activities that involve touch.

    Place the cubes and rectangular cubes inside the bag, and ask the person to reach in and feel one shape. As they pull the shape out of the bag, they verbally say whether the shape is a cube or a rectangle.

    You can also play a matching game with the person in your care by placing all of the wooden shapes in the bag, and have the person find matching pieces by feel. Repeat this process until all of the pieces have been paired.

    Placing the objects in the bag eliminates distractions and stimulates the sense of touch, while the matching process helps to strengthen cognitive function. Activities & Games for Dementia and Alzheimers Patients, Elizz ; Twitter:

  • Playing with dolls can help to fulfill needs for comfort and attachment. While individuals may have different views on the use of dolls and childrens toys with people with dementia, it is now widely recognized that dolls can offer a very powerful therapeutic benefit if used at the right time and in the right way.
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    Why Someone With Dementia Asks To Go Home

    Alzheimers and dementia damage the brain and cause a person to experience the world in different ways.;

    So, what we hear as I want to go home is often a request for comfort rather than literally asking to go somewhere.

    The kindest thing to do is to meet them where they are, focus on comfort and reassurance, and respond to the emotions behind their request.

    The goal is to reduce your older adults anxiety or fear so they can let go of the idea.

    Helping them to calm down also gives you a chance to check ifdiscomfort, pain, or a physical need is causing this behavior.

    Use Times To Suit The Persons Best Level Of Functioning

    To ensure maximum success when carrying out activities it is best to consider the times of day when the person is at their best. For instance, sometimes walking is best done in the morning or the early afternoon. However for some people who are particularly restless later in the day, or who have had a particularly long or meaningless day, a late afternoon walk may be better. ;

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    Amnestic Versus Nonamnestic Mci

    Two broad types of MCI are now recognized: amnestic MCI, when memory impairment is the main presenting feature, and nonamnestic MCI, when memory is relatively preserved but language difficulties are obvious. In both instances, the associated cognitive deficit can be the result of deficit in a single cognitive domain or multiple domains. Hence, four different syndromic phenotypes have been described: Amnestic MCI single domain, Amnestic MCI multiple domains, Nonamnestic MCI single domain, and Nonamnestic MCI multiple domains .

    Patients with amnestic MCI are at an increased risk of developing Alzheimers dementia: More than 50% of patients with amnestic MCI develop Alzheimers disease within a 5-year period of the diagnosis of amnestic MCI . Patients with MCI and a positive amyloid PET scan are more likely to rapidly transition to Alzheimers dementia. However, many patients, about 25% of the patients with amnestic MCI, do not have any evidence of brain pathology .

    Subjective memory complaints is another term introduced to identify those who complain of memory deficits, have normal cognitive functions as per various neuropsychological tests administered but have biomarkers of Alzheimers dementia .

    How To Distract And Soothe Yourself When Anxiety Strikes

    How to deal with repetitive questions of dementia patients ...

    Kylyssa Shay is a middle-aged American woman living with autism who enjoys sharing hard-earned life hacks with people who need them.

    Here are some tips for dealing with anxiety from a PTSD sufferer. They don’t cure anxiety, but they often work for me to short-circuit the symptoms in mid-freak-out.

    I’m an expert in anxietynot in treating it but in experiencing it. My first traumatic incident occurred in childhood so who’s to say whether or not any given symptom I experience is caused by PTSD or something else? Anxiety disorders have a great deal of overlap, and I’ve experienced all sorts of symptoms from a number of them. But I’ve found some tactics that help me. They don’t cure anxiety, but they often work for me to short-circuit the symptoms in mid-freak-out.

    That is why I’m sharing actual things that have helped me. They aren’t perfect, and they don’t always workeven for mebut I figured they might help other people.

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    Some Ideas For Simplifying

    Over the course of your loved ones Alzheimers journey, it will be necessary to simplify activities to match his abilities. For instance:

    • A life-long reader may eventually enjoy being read to, and then progress to just looking at the pictures.
    • A love of gardening may go from gardening, to cutting flowers, to weeding, to watering plants, to watching squirrels.
    • A regular round of golf, or a weekly night of bowling may progress to walking only.
    • Playing music or singing may progress to listening to music only.
    • Preparing the evening meal may eventually progress to folding dinner napkins, and can be a very engaging for the one with Alzheimers.

    S To Managing Difficult Dementia Behaviors

    1. REASSURE the person

    The hard truth: the person with dementia cant change the way he or she is. You have to change your reaction and the environment or situation.

    So putting the person first in your thinking as you react is paramount.

    Reassuring brings anxiety, upset, or other stress down a notch. It communicates Im on your side. I take you seriously. Not feeling understood makes anyone more distressed. For someone with dementia, you create a floor to what must feel like bottomless uneasiness.

    The catch: To reassure someone else, we first have to collect our own feelings. This can be hard because these are almost always emotionally charged situations!

    Its easy to feel annoyed when your parent is about to drive off yet another caregiver with false accusations.; Or scared when your spouse lashes out or hits.; Or embarrassed when Moms blouse comes off. Or worried Dad will fall or get lost. We want to REACT!

    Showing emotional intensity only makes things worse. It puts the other person on the defensive and adds to their instability . Also, people with dementia tend to be very sensitive to others moods, mirroring their demeanor. If youre upset, theyre apt to continue to be upset or become more upset. If youre calm and reassuring, you have a much better chance of transmitting that state.

    How to reassure:

    Approach slowly and from the front. Youre less likely to startle, confuse, or provoke.

    2. REVIEW the possible causes

    How to try to understand the WHY:

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    Do Activities Matter For A Person In The Later Stages Of Dementia

    It can be easy to assume that when a person is no longer communicating with words or is spending much of their day in bed, the emphasis will be on keeping the person physically comfortable and activities become less relevant. However, a person in the advanced stages of dementia can still experience emotions such as loneliness, boredom or frustration.

    A person might no longer be able to move independently or hold a conversation. However, many people with dementia will respond positively to close one-to-one attention using the eyes to communicate or hands to touch and make a connection.

    Nearly all the external things, the ones we take for granted and which the world values, may be swept away, but the real Malcolm, the essence he was born with, was there right to the end.

    Barbara Pointon cared for her husband Malcolm, who had dementia

    For more on these ideas, you might like to look at the feature on Communication in the later stages in the section on Communicating well.

    Try Diverting The Conversation

    Working with Dementia (3 of 6)

    Keep a photograph album handy. Sometimes looking at pictures from their past and being given the chance to reminisce will ease feelings of anxiety. It might be best to avoid asking questions about the picture or the past, instead trying to make comments: ‘That looks like Uncle Fred. Granny told me about the time he….’

    Alternatively, you could try diverting them with food, music, or other activities, such as a walk.

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    Distraction Methods For Aging Adults Who Have Dementia

    By Domenic Maccarone 9 am on August 16, 2019

    Dementia is a progressive disorder with many symptoms, including behavioral issues. Therefore, its common for older adults to become confused, angry, agitated, and even violent. Family caregivers need to develop distraction techniques like those mentioned below, which can calm situations and divert their elderly loved ones attention.

    Do Try To Be Pleasant

    Caregivers are also humans who are prone to emotions like anger, stress, impatience, and irritation. Even when one goes through caregiver burnout, it is best that the patient does not get wind of it. It is better to step out of the room and try some breathing exercises to calm down before going back to deal with the dementia patient. Where possible, shelve the bad feelings and try and deal with them later. Dementia patients deal with a lot and they do not need more on their plate if they are to lead fulfilling and happy lives.

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    Speak With A Care Advisor

    Wondering how to support a loved ones goal of being able to age at home? Call a Care Advisor today at or and learn how home care can support your needs.

    Always aim to simplify your surroundings when you notice signs of agitation. Move into a quieter space. A calm environment will often calm your loved one. Reducing the amount of non-essential items is a great way to increase feelings of calm in a home. Bright, distracting patterns and moving objects can confuse your loved one. One or two meaningful, personal pictures will offer a more calming environment than 20 frames.

    Clutter causes your loved ones senses to live in overdrive. If they are constantly filtering out what is important and necessary, then their brain cant relax. Your loved one will not know what to focus on. Help to calm them by limiting the things that surround them. Clutter also makes it easier to lose important objects or not see something that is out in the open.

    Lights are another stimulating presence. Particularly in the evenings and late afternoon. It is important to switch from bright overhead lights to smaller, dimmer lights as the sun goes down. The glare and reflections from lights off windows, mirrors or picture frames can be startling or even frightening for your loved one.


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