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How To Help A Loved One With Dementia

When Situations Become Difficult Distract Or Redirect In An Affectionate Reassuring Way

3 things to NEVER do with your loved one with dementia

If your loved one becomes upset or agitated, try changing the subject or the environment. For example, ask them for help or suggest going for a walk. If you need to redirect them, avoid trying to convince them that they are wrong. State things factually, not critically. Remember to stay focused on the feelings they are demonstrating and respond with verbal and physical expressions of comfort, support and reassurance. If you notice that these episodes seem to occur later in the day, make sure there is adequate lighting because poor lighting can increase confusion.

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Distraction: Singing & Reading

For some people, a distraction can be a good way to get the chore done. Its kind of a different communication style that helps in distressing situations. For example, if a patient and/or loved one likes;singing,;starting him/her singing could allow the;caregiver and/or family member;to ease into;bathing time with a gesture.

Singing actually can help tremendously with memory loss patients and/or loved ones who;can no longer talk, or have trouble finding words to form sentences, because they are usually still able to sing a song. Often, they can remember the lyrics of a song from beginning to end.

Many patients and/or loved ones can still read as well. Singing and reading can give the person great joy and hearing a loved ones voice can very comforting for family members.

The National Alliance For Caregiving Brain Health Conversation Guide

The National Alliance for Caregiving offers support and resources for all caregivers, but dementia caregivers will find the Brain Health Conversation Guide, developed in collaboration with the Alzheimers Foundation of America, particularly helpful for navigating those difficult discussions about memory changes and cognitive health. Other guidebooks, including a Spanish version of the Brain Health Conversation Guide, can be found here.

Also Check: Senile Dementia Of Alzheimer’s Type

Stimulating Activities For Someone With Dementia

Keeping in mind all the various stages of dementia, there are a few common activities that can be enjoyed in some fashion. Accommodation might be required, but these activities can be very engaging and encouraging:

  • Crossword puzzles. A great activity for people with early to mid-stage dementia are word games and crossword puzzles. They help reduce stress and help keep the problem-solving brain active and boosts confidence.
  • Jigsaw puzzles. There are online jigsaw puzzles and wonderful boxed puzzles that make for a stimulating activity for those in early states of dementia or Alzheimers disease. There are even online puzzles designed for people with dementia. Let your loved one choose a theme or image that they enjoy, and do the puzzle together.
  • Computer games. Whether it be puzzles, brain teasers like Sudoku or card games, coloring books, or watching videos on YouTube, there are an ever-increasing number of dementia-friendly computer games available for those who are able to use a laptop or tablet.
  • Bingo. A fun activity for just about everyone, Bingo is a classic game that can be easily adapted for people with dementia. It can help stimulate the thought process and stimulate the memory.
  • Card matching games. Matching images can be of birds, flowers, pictures of friends and family. Whether you buy a game or make one for your loved one, these types of games can help flex the memory muscle and provide for a fun way to spend an afternoon.
  • Dont Infantilize The Person

    How to help loved ones with dementia

    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.

    Also Check: Moving A Parent To Memory Care

    Tips On Transitioning A Loved One To Memory Dementia Or Alzheimer’s Care

    As your loved ones memory declines, or as the effects of dementia or Alzheimers disease become too much for the family or caregivers to handle, you will have to make the decision to place her in memory, dementia, or Alzheimers care. After you have consulted your family and her healthcare professionals, made financial arrangements, and chosen your loved ones new home, you have to prepare for transitioning her to a new level of care. You understand the need for the move, but it still is difficult for you to accept the decision, and your;emotions run even higher when you think about telling your loved one and anticipate moving day.

    To help ease the transition for your loved one , we have rounded up 50 tips from caregivers, memory care facility administrators, dementia and Alzheimers experts, and others who have experience in working with seniors who require special care. Keep in mind that everyone handles the transition differently, and you will need to use the tips that best fit your loved ones personality and needs and your situation. Please note, our 50 tips for easing the transition to memory, dementia, or Alzheimers care are not listed in order of importance or value in any way; rather, we have categorized them to help you find the tips that will be most useful to you.

    How To Help A Loved One With Dementia

    Its never easy to watch a loved one progress into memory loss or deal with the difficult symptoms and behaviors of dementia or Alzheimers. You want to help, but the symptoms often change from day to day and its hard to know just what to do to provide comfort.

    Yet, there are some care approaches that we teach our professional in-home caregivers in the HomeCare 100 Professional Caregiver Training Program that will help you too, as you care for your loved ones.

    When we start by understanding whats behind the difficult behaviors, then we can find ways to manage them.

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    Daily Care Tips For Someone With Alzheimer’s

    Day-to-day care will get more challenging as your loved one moves through the stages. Here are some things that could make keeping up with those things a little easier:

    Set up a daily routine and stick to it. For example, brush your loved one’s teeth after meals. Or always have baths in the mornings or evenings. Choose the most relaxed times of the day for these tasks.

    Respect their privacy. Close doors and blinds. Cover them with a towel or bathrobe.

    Encourage them to take on as much of their own care as possible. This will give them a sense of independence and accomplishment.

    Keep their abilities in mind. Give them enough time to complete each task — for example, brushing their hair or teeth.

    Encourage and support them. For example, say, “You did a nice job getting dressed today.”

    Tell them what youâre doing before you do it — “I’m going to wash your hair now.”

    If they can dress themselves, lay out their clothes in the order they should put them on. Itâs best to give them clothing thatâs easy to put on, with few buttons.

    Encourage them to feed themselves if they’re able. Serve finger foods that are easier to handle and eat, like chicken nuggets, orange slices, or steamed broccoli.

    If eating with a plate and fork gets too hard for them, give them a bowl and spoon. You can also try plate guards or silverware with handles.

    Don’t force them to eat. If they’re not interested in food, try to find out why. Treat them like an adult, not a child.

    How The Disease Affects The Brain


    Physiologically, dementia and/or Alzheimers affects various parts of the brain, specifically, it affects the brain in such a way that people have a difficult time learning new information. This is why, for a long time into the disease, patients and/or loved ones can remember things that happened a long time ago. They can remember wedding dates, the war they fought in, where they went to high schoolbut they can’t remember the visit that they had with their daughter yesterday. This is because the disease affects certain parts of the brainthe temporal lobeswhich are responsible for helping us learn new things.

    The reason theyre able to hold onto the memories that happened a long time ago is because those memories are represented throughout the brain. Long-term memories don’t require just one or two areas of the brainthey’re probably represented in multiple systemsso the disease has to be quite advanced before patients and/or loved ones start losing those memories.

    In the brain of someone with dementia and/or Alzheimer’s, there are actual holes in the brain that form. In an image of an Alzheimer’s brain, one can see where many of the brain cells have diedand it affects every area of the brain.

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    Path To Improved Well Being

    Dementia affects your loved ones ability to communicate thoughts and emotions. Your loved one may not know how to tell you their needs. They may not understand what you want when you ask a question or make a request. This can be frustrating. Follow these tips to reduce stress and improve communication:

    • Be positive. Keep your tone of voice and body language calm. Control your facial expressions. Speak in a pleasant manner. And use touch to give your loved one affection.
    • Be clear. Get your loved ones attention. Speak slowly and calmly. Use simple words and phrases. You may have to repeat the information or question multiple times. Dont get frustrated when this happens. Ask yes or no questions. Avoid giving choices if there are none.
    • Acknowledge feelings. If your loved one is sad, angry, or upset, dont ignore it. Let them know that you understand as you work to calm them. For example, you might say, I can see that you are frustrated. Lets go for a walk.

    Take care of yourself

    As the caregiver of a person who has dementia, you must first take care of yourself. If you become too tired and frustrated, you will be less able to help your family member. If you need a break, try the following:

    When a loved one has dementia, your family doctor can be a trusted resource and partner in their care.;Read;More

    Us Department Of Veterans Affairs Dementia Care

    For dementia caregivers providing care for a veteran, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs offers helpful information on Alzheimers disease and other dementias, as well as information on the services and resources available to veterans living with dementia. Services provided include support for both veterans and their caregivers.

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    Keep Your Loved One Social

    Humans are social creatures. If you think having dementia means they wont function as well with people, youre doing your loved one a disservice. They may improve if you surround them with family and friends.

    Try to schedule times during the week where they can meet up with friends and family. You can try to set up activities that theyre familiar with so your loved one isnt frustrated with what theyre doing.

    You can also try to vary what they do by stimulating their different senses. You can try anything from outdoor walks, gardening, and sitting down to talk.

    Dont Forget The Children And Teens

    How to Help a Loved One Suffering From Dementia

    With so much focus on the person who has dementia, sometimes younger family members donât get the attention they need, or the illness is not explained in a way they can understand.

    Children often experience a wide range of emotions when a parent or grandparent has Alzheimerâs disease. Younger children may be fearful that they will get the disease or that they did something to cause it. Teenagers may become resentful if they must take on more responsibilities or feel embarrassed that their parent or grandparent is âdifferent.â College-bound children may be reluctant to leave home.

    Reassure young children that they cannot âcatchâ the disease from you. Be straightforward about personality and behaviour changes. For example, the person with Alzheimerâs may forget things, such as their names, and say and do things that may embarrass them. Assure them that this is not their fault or intentional, but a result of the disease.

    Find out what their emotional needs are and find ways to support them, such as meeting with a counsellor who specializes in children with a family member diagnosed with Alzheimerâs disease. School social workers and teachers can be notified about what the children may be experiencing and be given information about the disease. Encourage children and teens to attend support group meetings, and include them in counselling sessions.

    Here are some examples that might help you cope with role changes within the family:

    Also Check: What Is The Difference Between Dementia And Senility

    Things To Remember If You Love Someone With Dementia

  • 2 11 15 Loving Someone With Dementia

  • February 6, 2019

    Caring for someone with Alzheimers disease is a difficult job, one that can cause caregivers a great amount of stress. However, if you love;someone with dementia, you know that the position can also bring joy into your life and be extremely rewarding;as well.

    In honor of the upcoming Valentines Day holiday, here are 20 things to remember when caring for a loved one with dementia.

    Talk With Close Family Members Or Friends

    Check in with others who know your loved one to see if theyve noticed any changes. Do this in a respectful, confidential manner to avoid unnecessary hurt or embarrassment.

    When Alzheimers strikes, although many people become quite skilled at covering their memory lapses, they find it difficult to maintain that around those who know them well. Its often helpful to verify if others have made similar observations; they may have been questioning the same thing and not have known whether to raise the concern or ignore it.

    Of course, your objective here is not to spread a rumor or gossip, but rather to collaborate with those closest to your loved one.

    Also Check: Senility Vs Dementia Vs Alzheimer’s

    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.

    Caregiver support

    Prepare For The Future


    Its hard to know what to do if you dont know whats going to happen in the future. Make sure you learn more about dementia and how it affects people.

    Things arent likely to stay the way they are. As time goes on, your loved one is going to continue losing their memory and have personality changes. The more you learn about these changes, the better you can handle them when they happen.

    You dont want to jump into things without knowing what to do.

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    Ensure A Safe Environment

    People with dementia often have trouble making good judgments. This could lead to falls and injuries. Do your best to make their home or environment as safe as it can be. Remove clutter, loose rugs, and cords around the floor.;

    Place locks on cabinets where harmful items are and check their water temperature before they take a bath or shower.;

    Reminisce With Stories Or Photographs

    People with dementia are more likely to retain older information than more recent memories. Involve your loved one by asking general questions about the persons distant past rather than asking questions that rely on short-term memory. Encourage them to tell stories about their younger self or bring out a photo album to talk about old memories. Remembering the good old days and parts of their past can be very helpful and may be calming and soothing.

    Also Check: Senile Dementia Of The Alzheimer Type

    Aim For Keeping Them Healthy

    Its important to encourage your loved one to maintain a healthy lifestyle. First, think about their physical health. Your loved one should still focus on daily movement, sofor instanceyou can accompany them on a long stroll outdoors. Further, if you prepare their food for them, prioritize nutritious meals and snacks. Also, remember their mental healthlike you, they still want to enjoy themselves! Perhaps the both of you can partake in a craft or dance to your favorite songs. These activities allow you to connect on a different level besides verbal communication.

    Dont Use Slang Or Figures Of Speech

    Dementia Action Week 2021: How to help a loved one with ...

    As dementia progresses, it can become harder for someone to understand what youre trying to tell them. For example, telling a loved one with Alzheimers disease that its “no use crying over spilled milk” might result in him looking to see where the milk has spilled, rather than end up comforting him or encouraging him not to focus on a past problem.

    In fact, the proverb interpretation test, which asks the test taker to interpret abstract ideas such as the spilled milk reference above, is one way to screen for symptoms of dementia.

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