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How To Talk To Dementia People

Always Keep In Mind And Treat Him As An Adult And Worthy Person

How to Talk to Someone With Dementia

A person with dementia is still an adult person. The treatment towards her must always respect their dignity and should be treated with respect .

Even if the person is not aware of where they are or with whom, they should be treated as adults and not infantilized. Likewise, they should not be spoken of as if they were not present, no matter how much they do not show any reaction to stimulation or language.

How To Best Respond

Families and friends of those affected by dementia often do not know how to respond when their loved ones rely on these remote memories, at heart, living in the past. Its certainly not the case that these remote memories should be ignored or suppressed.

Rather than trying to bring the person with dementia back to reality, families and carers may try to enter their reality building trust and empathy, and reducing anxiety. This is known as validation therapy but many families and carers will practise this technique without knowing its name.

Reminiscence therapy has also been shown to increase mood, well-being and behaviour in those with dementia. This involves the discussion of past activities, events and experiences .

Alzheimers Australia has some fantastic help sheets and phone line to help carers and family members communicate with loved ones with dementia.

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Getting Help And Advice

Christine, who acts as a carer for her husband, Gilly, discussed the importance of people getting expert information and advice to improve their understanding of dementia.

It was only when Christine spoke to a medical professional that she gained a better idea of why her husband’s personality seemed to have changed so drastically.

“We saw a psychiatrist and he explained to me that the sections of the brain where the brain cells had died, they were in the parts of the brain that affected decision-making and empathy,” she said. “And it was just like somebody had shone a light on our lives – I wish they’d have told me that before.”

If you want to learn more about dementia, you can get reliable information from the NHS and charities like Dementia UK.

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False Beliefs And Delusions In Dementia

The content below is reflective of our leaflet.

We understand the world through our senses. The five basic senses can be affected by dementia: hearing, sight, smell, taste and touch. These senses collect information and send it to the brain, which uses it to make sense of the world around us.

For some people living with dementia, their brain misinterprets the information from their senses. This can lead to them holding false beliefs and delusions about the world around them. These false beliefs or different realities can be very distressing for the person with dementia and the people caring for them. A common example is believing that someone is stealing from them. It might not be true, but to the person experiencing this belief, its real and trying to explain that it isnt real, might increase the persons distress.

In this leaflet, well look at what we mean by false beliefs and delusions, suggest why this might be happening, and think about ways to prevent or manage them.

Do Not Keep Correcting The Patient

How to talk to someone with dementia when they are afraid ...

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.

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Tips From A Person With Dementia

Christine Bryden was diagnosed with dementia at age 46, and has shared a number of her insights about ways that families and friends can help a person with dementia. Christine is also the author of a number of publications, including Who will I be when I die?, the first book written by an Australian with dementia.

Christine provides these tips for communicating with a person with dementia:

Things To Say To Someone With Alzheimers

Seeing someone you care about experience Alzheimers or another type of dementia is painstakingly difficult. Knowing what to say to someone whos lost his or her memory can also be hard. However, how you approach conversations can have a significant impact on your loved one.

The most important tip for communication with someone living with Alzheimers is to meet them where they are, said Ruth Drew, director of Information and Support Services at the Alzheimers Association. In the early stage of the disease, a person is still able to have meaningful conversations, but may repeat stories, feel overwhelmed by excessive stimulation, or have difficulty finding the right word. Be patient and understand that their brain is not working in the way it once did.

As the disease progresses, communicating with that person may become even more challenging. However, if you recognize the changes and challenges that come with dementia, you will more easily be able to alter your conversations with that person to meet his or her needs.

This may require slowing down and making eye contact with the person as you speak, says Drew. Use short, simple sentences, ask one question at a time, and give the person time to process and respond before continuing the conversation. If you are kind, gentle and relaxed, everything will work better.

Read on for six helpful things to say to those with Alzheimers, and three topics and phrases experts recommend avoiding.

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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.

How To Talk To Someone With Dementia On The Phonea Quick Guide

  • Most importantly, communicate your love.You do this just with the tone of your voice and by continuing to talk.
  • Resist the impulse to correct them. If they tell you something that you know is untrue, it is not helpful to correct them. If you do, you may embarrass them and they wont feel safe talking to you. If it is something unpleasant, try changing the subject.
  • Tell them stories.Begin with happy stories from your week. Tell them other funny stories that might interest them. Tell stories from their past that you know they enjoy.
  • Make a list of topics beforehand. It can help to make a list of topics beforehand so that you dont run out of things to say.
  • Asking about the weather is a cue that they want to keep talking.If they ask about the weather or how your day was, this is a cue that they are enjoying talking, but dont know what to say. Keep the conversation going by providing the stories.
  • Bring a good mood. Try to communicate a good mood because people experiencing dementia absorb the moods of others around them. They have lost the ability to manage their own moods so a bad mood will follow them long after theyve forgotten why they feel bad. For this reason, try to end the conversation on a happy or funny topic.
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    Get Ready To Talk To Your Parents About Dementia

    Prepare yourself for a challenging conversation. Think about how you want to begin the discussion and handle disagreements. Also, have some positive suggestions and ideas to offer.

    Most importantly, understand that the conversation may be continuing for an extended period. If it becomes too heated or emotional, it is best to leave it alone and address the issue another time.

    Do Try And Identify The Trigger That Causes Behavior Change

    After spending some time with a patient who has dementia, caregivers may be in a position to identify some of the things that make dementia sufferers yell, get physical, or change their mood. For some, it may be something simple such as taking a bath or even getting dressed.

    The best approach to handle this is not to force the patient to do something that they do not want to do. Try and distract them with something else that allows them to relax and calm down. Once they are not a danger to themselves or anyone around them, try going back to the subject, but this time reassuringly and calmly.

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    What Are The Main Types Of Dementia

    Alzheimers disease is the most common cause of dementia, accounting for around 2 out of every 3 of cases in older people. Vascular dementia is another common form, while dementia with Lewy bodies and frontotemporal dementia are less common.

    It is possible to have more than one type of dementia at the same time. Alzheimers is sometimes seen with vascular dementia or dementia with Lewy bodies. You might hear this called mixed dementia.

    The symptoms of dementia vary depending on the disease, or diseases, causing it. You can read more about the symptoms associated with different types of dementia on the Alzheimers Society website .

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    Focus On Communicating Your Love

    Communicate with Dementia Person

    However, not only do we need to keep in mind that the ability to use recall will fade away, we also need to keep in mind that people experiencing dementia sometimes recall dreamed events as being real, because they become unable to distinguish between dreams and reality. We should not assume they are purposefully misleading us. Rather than focusing on whats true or factual, its better to spend our time on the phone communicating our love and desire to spend time with them. We shouldnt expect verifiable facts from someone whos losing memory and rational thought. What someone with dementia says has happened is possibly true, but not necessarily true.

    So dont correct, or question the validity of what your loved one says. Focus on what matters: that you love them and enjoying talking with them.

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    How To Talk To Someone With Dementia

    There are many different dementias, which can affect different abilities. In many cases, it ends up showing a deterioration of the ability to attend to, remember, retain or even understand and processing what they are told can complicate their processing and even their assessment. That is why we offer below a series of indications which may be useful in the treatment of a patient exhibiting these characteristics.

    Make The Conversation Low

    Speaking of questions, I always try to word everything in a way that makes it ok if the person Im asking doesnt have an answer. Instead of Why did you, I use Why do you think to start questions. Using Do you remember also works well although I try not to use it too often. I dont want my loved one to feel bad if she is constantly answering no.

    Another way to keep the conversation going is to bring up a favorite memory you have of the past. You can bring up a couple key details and then pause to see if your loved one will fill in a few more.

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    What Increases The Risk For Dementia

    • AgeThe strongest known risk factor for dementia is increasing age, with most cases affecting those of 65 years and older
    • Family historyThose who have parents or siblings with dementia are more likely to develop dementia themselves.
    • Race/ethnicityOlder African Americans are twice more likely to have dementia than whites. Hispanics 1.5 times more likely to have dementia than whites.
    • Poor heart healthHigh blood pressure, high cholesterol, and smoking increase the risk of dementia if not treated properly.
    • Traumatic brain injuryHead injuries can increase the risk of dementia, especially if they are severe or occur repeatedly.

    Dont Use Slang Or Figures Of Speech

    How to talk on the phone to someone with dementia?

    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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    What Are Some Tricky Situations You May Encounter

  • In situations of aggression

  • Examples of aggressive speech or actions such asWhy arent you letting me eat?! or I want to go home now! or I cant find my purse! often spark aggressive behaviors among dementia patients. As mentioned by an article by a Place for Mom, People with dementia are more apt to hit, kick or bite in response to feeling helpless and afraid. It is important to note that aggression is usually sparked because of fear and feelings of desperation and exasperation. For example, they may not remember that they have eaten 30 minutes ago. So it may come as confusing and restricting for them when you refuse to give them food.

    In order to handle such situations more effectively, the solution is to understand why certain actions provoke your parents or place them in uncomfortable situations that can cause distress and oppositional behaviors. For example, some patients do not like to be touched. Actions like patting their backs to sooth them down will only serve to agitate them even further. Therefore, knowing your parents and their level of comfort with certain actions can prevent situations that provoke aggression.

  • In situations of confusion

  • It is common among patients with dementia to be confused about their surroundings at different and random points of time. Examples of what they will say are: This is not my husband! or Where is my home?.

    Dont Rush To Identify Everything As A Symptom Of Dementia

    We must keep in mind that it is not uncommon for people with dementia or just elderly people to have hearing problems, which in turn need to be assessed when examining a patient. so as not to confuse a sensory problem with symptoms of dementia. It is also necessary to assess in advance whether or not you have been to school, which is also relevant in terms of adjusting tests and treatments to your needs.

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    Avoid The Phrase Dont You Remember

    Even if weve met 30 times, I always introduce myself: My name is Morgen and we met last week and had a chance to visit, Hartford says. Saying, dont you remember? is not a good phrase. They get put on the spot and can get stressed. Getting stressed can make their memory worse.

    As for reminding someone that they have dementia, in some cases that is not a problem. But other people dont know anything is wrong with them and telling them could upset them and make things worse, Hartford says.

    Coma Work: An Example

    Tips For Talking To Someone With Dementia infographic

    Rosemary Clarke attended a course on coma work and found it to have amazing benefits in her caring role with her mother. In an article for the Journal of Dementia Care, Rosemary describes how she learnt to sit very close to her mother so she could talk into her ear. She would pay attention to what her mother might be doing, for example, she would be chewing or moving one finger a tiny bit or sighing. She would then focus on one of these activities and support her mother to go with that impulse, to give it its fullest expression. She would therefore encourage her chewing with thats good, you really chew it or thats fine, you chew it over.

    Sometimes Rosemary would respond to her mothers moving finger by having a finger dance with her own index finger, talking to each other through applying pressure from the finger whether slow and soft or firm and persistent. All the time Rosemary would be giving verbal encouragement What an energetic/busy/strong finger!, This is lovely, our fingers are talking.

    As a result of this approach, Rosemary describes how her mother started to speak more often than she had before, sometimes with words and sometimes with sounds. On one occasion, even before Rosemary had sat down beside her, she looked up and said hello darling .

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    Stage : Mild Dementia

    At this stage, individuals may start to become socially withdrawn and show changes in personality and mood. Denial of symptoms as a defense mechanism is commonly seen in stage 4. Behaviors to look for include:

    • Difficulty remembering things about ones personal history
    • Disorientation
    • Difficulty recognizing faces and people

    In stage 4 dementia, individuals have no trouble recognizing familiar faces or traveling to familiar locations. However, patients in this stage will often avoid challenging situations in order to hide symptoms or prevent stress or anxiety.


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