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.
Faqs About Dementia And The Phone
How do you talk to someone with dementia on the phone?
The most important thing think to do when talking to someone with dementia on the phone is to communicate your love. You do this just with the tone of your voice and by continuing to talk. 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. Tell them happy stories about your life. Also tell them funny stories that you remember from times in the past spent with them. Resist the impulse to correct them. It can help to make a list of topics beforehand so that you dont run out of things to say. Last but not least, communicate a good mood because people experiencing dementia absorb the moods of others around them and are often unable to shake a bad mood on their own.
What should/can I do when a person with dementia is calling constantly?
What Are Good Examples Of Supporting The Person With Dementia To Make Decisions
People with dementia may have difficulty making their own decisions, but there will also be occasions where they can make decisions for themselves and its important to recognise and enable that as much as possible. For example, some people living with dementia may not have the cognitive function to make decisions about their medical treatment, but they can make decisions about their meal plan and what they watch on TV. This may also vary over time and depend on the severity of their condition.
There may be times throughout the course of the condition where they are unable to make a decision, but, later on in the day or the week, they become aware and can have clear thought processes. As dementia progresses, the decisions an individual can make, as well as their capacity to make these decisions, may change.
People must be supported to make their own decision wherever possible and you can support them to do so by:
- Giving them all the information they need to make an informed decision
- Allowing them time to think it over or talk it through with a professional, expert, or someone they trust
- Explaining things in a way that is easier to understand
- Ensuring their hearing aid is working or their glasses are on if they use them as this may provide more clarity or psychological comfort
- Using pictures to help them visualise something such as a meal
- Choosing the best time of day to talk about the decision maybe there is a general time frame where your loved one is more lucid
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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 .
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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Be Patient And Avoid Jumping In
Its best to give your loved one extra time to process what you say. If you ask a question, patiently wait for their response and avoid rushing an answer. Get comfortable with silence while your loved one is thinking.
When your loved one is struggling for a word, it can be tempting to jump in. But rather than helping, you may unintentionally derail their thought process, Gurung says.
Speak Naturally And Use Gestures
Its important to speak clearly, simply, and in complete sentences, while using a calm and friendly voice to talk to someone with dementia.
Besides using your voice, try to communicate using your body, incorporating subtle movements. Demonstrate your meaning with visual cues or gestures. For example, if you say, Lets go for a walk, use an arm motion with your invitation.
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Your Loved One Has A Fall
For people living with dementia, the risk of falling is increased. While some falls don’t cause any injury, other falls can cause concussions or head injuries, hip fractures, or neck injuries. If your family member with dementia hit her head or neck in the fall, lost consciousness, can’t move her arms or legs, has significant pain or can’t bear weight, you will likely need to call 911 for medical evaluation and possible transport to the hospital.
Support Their Cultural And Spiritual Needs
Its good to be aware of the persons cultural and spiritual needs and make sure these are respected and supported. You can make use of any advance care plans or documents, friends and family input and your knowledge of the person. Its important to try and meet these needs as much as possible, they are just as important as medical care.
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Caring For Someone With Dementia Towards The End Of Life
Please be aware – this information is for healthcare professionals. We also have information for the public.
You can use our My Learning form to reflect on how this page has helped with your continuing professional development.
People with dementia may experience problems with thinking, memory, behaviour and mobility. It can be difficult to recognise when someone with dementia is nearing the end of their life. You can support the person by communicating with them and helping them with any symptoms they have. If possible, its a good idea to plan the persons care in advance to help understand what they want from their care.
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Caring For Someone With Anosognosia
For dementia caregivers, anosognosia can sometimes be more frustrating to deal with than a loved ones actual lapses in memory. A seniors abilities are changing before your eyes, but how can you convince them that they are incapable of driving, cooking or handling their finances when they dont understand they are even ill? As with most unusual dementia behaviors, learning more about the issue can help you stay calm and find workarounds to keep your loved one safe.
My mother has anosognosiasomething I didn’t even know existed until I read an article about it a couple of years ago. Just knowing that she lacks the capability to recognize her deficits does make it easier to work with her sometimes because I can strategize with that in mind. caring4alice
Some patients are so convinced theyre healthy and competent that they may even refuse to go to doctors appointments, undergo neurological testing, receive medical treatments or take medications. We are all familiar with the adage you cant help those that wont help themselves. With dementia, even when someone does not acknowledge the root of their problems or want assistance, intervention of some kind is usually necessary.
Visit the articles below for insights and suggestions from experienced caregivers on how to cope with the complications that can result from anosognosia.
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Dont Ask A Person With Short
A patient and/or loved one can construe even the simplest of conversation starters as a real question, but they honestly dont know the answer to it. This can be embarrassing and can send them back into a fogthey try their best to give an answer that makes sense to them and often produce immediate physical concerns: I’m having a lot of pain, for example. A caregiver and/or family member might ask, What did you have for breakfast? and the person with memory loss doesn’t remember at all. They might say earnestly, I haven’t had anything to eat for weeks, . So these are questions to avoid because it causes fear for the person, that they have failed. But there things you can talk about
Who Is Judy Cornish
Judy Cornish is a former eldercare lawyer and the former owner of Palouse Dementia Care, a dementia care agency that provides in-home dementia care to seniors in northern Idaho. She is the author of Dementia With Dignity and The Dementia Handbook as well as the creator of the DAWN Method of dementia care. Judy believes that with a little training, families can provide excellent dementia care at home with less stress and more companionship.
Of course, we expect that, due to memory loss, people who have dementia will have trouble recalling what they did earlier in the day, let alone whats been happening during the past week. And, we know that how much they can remember will diminish as time goes on. At first, you may find that it helps to ask leading questions by including a fact or two . In the earlier stages of dementia, memories sometimes become available when we prompt with a few facts.
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Dont Just Talk Loudly
Not every person with dementia has a hearing impairment, and using a loud tone can make them feel like you are yelling at them. Use a clear, normal tone of voice to start a conversation with someone.
If the person doesnt respond or you become aware that they have a hearing problem, you can increase your volume. Speaking in a slightly lower register can also help if someone has a hearing problem.
Caregiving In The Middle Stages Of Alzheimers Or Dementia
As your loved ones Alzheimers disease or dementia symptoms progress, theyll require more and more careand youll need more and more support as their caregiver. Your loved one will gradually experience more extensive memory loss, may become lost in familiar settings, no longer be able to drive, and fail to recognize friends and family. Their confusion and rambling speech can make communicating more of a challenge and they may experience disturbing mood and behavior changes along with sleep problems.
Youll need to take on more responsibilities as your loved one loses independence, provide more assistance with the activities of daily living, and find ways of coping with each new challenge. Balancing these tasks with your other responsibilities requires attention, planning, and lots of support.
Ask for help. You cannot do it all alone. Its important to reach out to other family members, friends, or volunteer organizations to help with the daily burden of caregiving. Schedule frequent breaks throughout the day to pursue your hobbies and interests and stay on top of your own health needs. This is not being neglectful or disloyal to your loved one. Caregivers who take regular time away not only provide better care, they also find more satisfaction in their caretaking roles.
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Try Diverting The Conversation
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.
Common Changes In Behaviour
In the middle to later stages of most types of dementia, a person may start to behave differently. This can be distressing for both the person with dementia and those who care for them.
Some common changes in behaviour include:
- repeating the same question or activity over and over again
- restlessness, like pacing up and down, wandering and fidgeting
- night-time waking and sleep disturbance
- following a partner or spouse around everywhere
- loss of self-confidence, which may show as apathy or disinterest in their usual activities
If you’re caring for someone who’s showing these behaviours, it’s important to try to understand why they’re behaving like this, which is not always easy.
You may find it reassuring to remember that these behaviours may be how someone is communicating their feelings. It may help to look at different ways of communicating with someone with dementia.
Sometimes these behaviours are not a dementia symptom. They can be a result of frustration with not being understood or with their environment, which they no longer find familiar but confusing.
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How To Cope With Common Changes In Behaviour
Although changes in behaviour can be difficult to deal with, it can help to work out if there are any triggers.
- Do some behaviours happen at a certain time of day?
- Is the person finding the home too noisy or cluttered?
- Do these changes happen when a person is being asked to do something they may not want to do?
Keeping a diary for 1 to 2 weeks can help identify these triggers.
If the change in behaviour comes on suddenly, the cause may be a health problem. The person may be in pain or discomfort from constipation or an infection.
Ask a GP for an assessment to rule out or treat any underlying cause.
Keeping an active social life, regular exercise, and continuing activities the person enjoys, or finding new ones, can help to reduce behaviours that are out of character.
Read more about activities for dementia.
Other things that can help include:
- providing reassurance
- activities that give pleasure and confidence, like listening to music or dancing
- therapies, such as animal-assisted therapy, music therapy, and massage
Remember also that it’s not easy being the person supporting or caring for a person with behaviour changes. If you’re finding things difficult, ask for support from a GP.
How To Talk To Someone With Dementia Alzheimer’s Or Memory Loss
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 you and your patient or loved one.
Those struggling to communicate with a person who has memory loss are not alone. As many as four million people in the US may have Alzheimer’s, and, as our population ages, that number is expected to increase. Anyone who is a senior caregiver is likely to be affected and will need to understand how to cope with what is happening.
Memory loss associated with aging, dementia, and Alzheimer’s typically doesnt happen overnight. Slowly, little-by-little, it sneaks up, until one day, family members realize that they can no longer communicate in the same way with the person they’ve known for years. They suddenly can’t rely on their words and their sentences dont match the situation.
Because we cannot see the diseasethe way we see a broken armits even more confusing when caregivers see how their patient and/or loved one will have good and bad days. The days when theyre alert and clear-headed make a caregiver hopeful. Then the bad days come, and family members and caregivers feel the pain of losing their patient and/or loved one all over again. This slow and normal progression of the disease makes communication a major challenge for caregivers.
This blog will share more information and advice to improve communication, including:
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Tips For A Healthy And Active Lifestyle For People With Dementia
Eating healthy and staying active is good for everyone and is especially important for people with Alzheimers and related dementias. As the disease progresses, finding ways for the person to eat healthy foods and stay active may be increasingly challenging. Here are some tips that may help:
- Consider different activities the person can do to stay active, such as household chores, cooking and baking, exercise, and gardening. Match the activity to what the person can do.
- Help get an activity started or join in to make the activity more fun. People with dementia may lack interest or initiative and can have trouble starting activities. But, if others do the planning, they may join in.
- Add music to exercises or activities if it helps motivate the person. Dance to the music if possible.
- Be realistic about how much activity can be done at one time. Several short mini-workouts may be best.
- Take a walk together each day. Exercise is good for caregivers, too!
- Buy a variety of healthy foods, but consider food that is easy to prepare, such as premade salads and single portions.
- Give the person choices about what to eat, for example, Would you like yogurt or cottage cheese?