Make Sure Your Loved One Knows You Have A Plan To Help
Reassure your mother or father that there are many things you can do together to help them live their best possible life. This includes education. Together you can find the right medical care, look into local support organizations, and plan ahead for legal and medical needs. Discuss how to create a safe home environment, especially if your loved one lives alone.
Dont sugarcoat the diagnosis, but dont push the panic button either. Tell your loved one that the two of you will create a plan together.
Don’t Talk To Them Like They’re A Young Child Or A Baby
Imagine if someone came up to you and spoke in a sing-song voice, putting their face close to yours. What would your reaction be? Would it be to pull back from that person and withdraw, laugh at them, or simply not respond?
This type of interaction is called “elderspeak,” and it has got to go. A person with Alzheimer’s is an adult, not a child. They will appreciate being treated as such.
Do Dementia Patients Know What They Are Saying
These communication hiccups happen all the time to most people, but dementia affects the brain so that language problems become more noticeable. Someone with Alzheimers, for instance, wont remember phrases, or be able to learn new phrases. Slang and common expressions become hard or even impossible to remember.
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Ways To Reduce And Manage Mean Dementia Behavior
1. Calm the situation downThe first thing to do is reduce the tension in the room.
Start by limiting the distractions in the room, like turning off the TV or asking others to leave.
And if you stay calm, theyre also more likely to calm down.
It might help you to count to 10 or even leave the room for a short time to cool down. Repeat to yourself its the disease as a reminder that theyre not intentionally doing this.
If the current activity seemed to cause the agitation, try shifting to a more pleasant, calming activity. Or, try soft music or a gentle massage.
2. Comfort and reassure while checking for causes of discomfort or fearTake a deep breath, dont argue, and use a calm, soothing voice to reassure and comfort your older adult.
It also helps to speak slowly and use short, direct sentences.
Then, check for possible causes of agitation or fear, like:
- Feeling disturbed by strange surroundings
- Being overwhelmed by complicated tasks
- Frustration because of the inability to communicate
It also helps to focus on their emotions rather than their specific words or actions. Look for the feelings behind what theyre doing as a way to identify the cause.
3. Keep track of and avoid possible triggersWhenever difficult behavior comes up, write down what happened, the time, and the date in a dedicated notebook.
Also think about what was going on just before the behavior started and write that down as a possible trigger.
Taking some time away can help both of you.
How To Communicate With Someone Who Has Dementia
As dementia progresses it affects peoples ability to express themselves so you may need to learn new ways to understand and communicate with them.
- If what the person is saying doesnt seem to make sense, try to look for the meaning behind the words.
- Speak slowly and clearly, using simple language and short sentences.
- Avoid choice and keep things simple with questions that only need a yes or no answer.
- Avoid testing the persons memory by asking them what they did earlier. Try not to get into argument about what they say, even if you think theyre mistaken. Simply listening to what theyre saying rather than correcting them can help someone feel acknowledged.
- Create a memory book to help the person with dementia remember special times. This can be a collection of photos that represent happy events like weddings, holidays and the birth of children.
- Memory books can also help health and social care professionals appreciate the persons likes and understand their past experiences.
- If youre struggling with unusual or challenging behaviour speak to the persons GP to get a referral to your community mental health team. The Alzheimer Societys factsheet Aggressive behaviour has useful information including how to react, working out triggers, and dealing with your own feelings.
Distress and confusion may be caused by other health needs, rather than dementia. Always discuss any concerns with the GP so they can check for physical causes or reactions to current medication.
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Pay Attention To Tone Of Voice
Slow down, leave pauses between each sentence, speak simply and never raise your voice. Keep things conversational this isnt a lecture or an interrogation.
Make sure to always be respectful and think about how youd like to be treated. For example, dont talk about your parent when they are right there with you in the room. Always include your loved one in the conversation. People with dementia may feel isolated, so make sure they know you value them!
Don’t Focus On What They Aren’t Able To Do Anymore
Rather than emphasize someone’s lost job, disorganization, or poor memory, direct attention instead to their ability to complete the puzzle they’ve been working on, a nice hairdo, or how well they walk.
Grieving what’s lost is understandable and important, but focusing on the skills of the person goes a long way toward encouraging them and can change both of your perspectives.
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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.
Communicating Through Body Language And Physical Contact
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.
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The Alzheimers And Dementia Care Journey
Caring for someone with Alzheimers disease or another type of dementia can be a long, stressful, and intensely emotional journey. But youre not alone. In the United States, there are more than 16 million people caring for someone with dementia, and many millions more around the world. As there is currently no cure for Alzheimers or dementia, it is often your caregiving and support that makes the biggest difference to your loved ones quality of life. That is a remarkable gift.
However, caregiving can also become all-consuming. As your loved ones cognitive, physical, and functional abilities gradually diminish over time, its easy to become overwhelmed, disheartened, and neglect your own health and well-being. The burden of caregiving can put you at increased risk for significant health problems and many dementia caregivers experience depression, high levels of stress, or even burnout. And nearly all Alzheimers or dementia caregivers at some time experience sadness, anxiety, loneliness, and exhaustion. Seeking help and support along the way is not a luxury its a necessity.
Just as each individual with Alzheimers disease or dementia progresses differently, so too can the caregiving experience vary widely from person to person. However, there are strategies that can aid you as a caregiver and help make your caregiving journey as rewarding as it is challenging.
Avoid Asking Seniors To Remember
It is natural for family members to reminisce with elderly loved ones. Asking a dementia patient if she remembers a person or event is stressful. Forgetting is a primary symptom of dementia. Asking seniors to recall information causes sad feelings because they realize they have lost their memory.
Rather than asking questions that force the senior to try to remember, make statements. For example, a family member might say, I remember when we used to go the carnival. Statements like these gently lead loved ones down memory lane while causing less angst for the senior.
Dementia is no fault of the senior who suffers from it. Family members should take care to speak with their loved ones in new ways once a dementia diagnosis is made. Efforts to communicate compassionately with dementia patients bring harmony to all involved.
Memory caregivers from Assisting Hands Home Care understand how to best communicate with seniors struggling with dementia. Our professional caregivers are trained to identify and gently handle the elderly when they display the various signs of dementia, such as agitation, incontinence and wandering.
Assisting Hands Home Care in-home care services are designed to support the dementia patient in the comfort of home. We remind our elderly care recipients to take correct doses of medications on time. Our caregivers prepare nutritious meals and provide pleasant companionship to reduce social isolation.
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S For Communicating With Someone With Dementia
- Keep yourself in the persons eyeline, and try not to suddenly appear from the side or from behind
- Speak clearly and in short sentences
- If the person is struggling to recognise you, introduce yourself and tell them about the connection between you, for instance: Hello mum, its Julie and I have little Danny, your grandson with me.
- Be reassuring look the person in the eye and smile
- If a person with dementia is getting agitated, take yourself to another room for a few minutes before coming back in, calmly, and saying something like: Hello, Im back now, how lovely to see you.
- Try not to correct the person if they get your name wrong or say something that isnt true this can lead to distress and frustration on all sides. Try to imagine how the person with dementia is feeling
Remember, not being recognised does not mean you are totally forgotten.
How Do You Stop Amyloid Build Up
The two most important strategies for halting the accumulation of amyloid are currently in clinical trials and include: ImmunotherapyThis utilizes antibodies that are either developed in a laboratory or induced by the administration of a vaccine to attack the amyloid and promote its clearance from brain.
What Should You Not Say To Someone With Dementia
When communicating with a person with dementia, try to: avoid competing noises, such as TV or radio. stay still while you are talking this makes it easier for the person with dementia to follow what you are saying. maintain regular routines this helps to minimise confusion and can assist communication.
Ways To Respond When Someone Is Experiencing Dementia Hallucinations
1. Determine if a response is neededThe first step is to determine whether the hallucination is bothering your older adult.
If its pleasant, you might not want to respond or call attention to it.
Just know and accept that its a dementia symptom and thankfully isnt causing distress.
If the hallucination is upsetting them or causing them to do something unsafe, then its time to quickly step in to provide comfort or redirect to a safe activity.
2. Stay calm and dont argue or try to convince using logicWhen someone is having a dementia hallucination, its important to stay calm and avoid contradicting them.
What theyre seeing is a dementia symptom and is very real to them.
Trying to explain that it isnt real simply wont work because of the damage that dementia has caused in their brain.
In fact, knowing that you dont believe them might make them even more upset and agitated.
If theyre calm enough to explain, it may also help to understand what theyre seeing. Listen carefully and try to pick up clues to what theyre seeing.
But keep in mind that dementia damage in the brain may affect their ability to use the correct words. For example, they could unintentionally say cabbages when they mean green cushions.
3. Validate their feelings and provide reassuranceBe careful not to dismiss your older adults experience.
Brushing off what theyre seeing by saying something like, Dont be silly, theres nothing there, is likely to upset them.
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‘your Brother Died 10 Years Ago’
A person living with dementia may forget about a past bereavement or ask for somebody who has passed away. But reminding them of a loved one’s death can be painful, even causing them to relive the grief they’ve already experienced. How carers should respond to this may vary for different circumstances, but it’s always good to show sensitivity.
Try this instead:
It may be better to come up with another reason for somebody’s absence, while at other times a gentle reminder is appropriate. In the later stages of dementia, trying to remind them that the person has died is unlikely to work and may be best avoided.
Should You Keep Trying To Communicate
Family members may frequently ask, How often should I visit?, or, Should I visit at all, because they dont seem to be understanding what were saying, most of the time they dont seem to recognize me, etc. Caregivers can encourage family members to visit because its important to them. Also, the person with memory loss may catch some things on some days, and if family members can make the interaction a pleasant moment, it can be rewarding for both.
Communication amongst family becomes particularly difficult when the person with dementia and/or Alzheimers doesn’t recognize family members anymore. In this situation, a spouse or children can think that it doesnt do any good to go talk to the personthat anyone could talk to him/her because they dont remember who they are. But there is a richness that happens because of family history together, something that can only come from people that have been family or friends for a long time.
The type of communication families can get out of visits can be pulled from the strength of the patient and/or loved ones long-term memories. They can still talk about the past, and for family members, to hear those things are perhaps a worthwhile gift.
Even though the patient and/or loved one can no longer communicate the way they used to, there are still other ways to enjoy time together. There is beauty and simplicity in being in the present moment.
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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.
Moving To A Care Home
If the persons needs become too great for you to manage at home, you may need to consider other long-term options. If youre becoming exhausted or the person with dementia is becoming harder to care for, a care home can be the best option for you both.
A move to a care home can be a difficult decision, but there are limits to the care you can provide.
If the person you care for is moving into a care home, familiar furniture, belongings or music can help them feel more settled.
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Can Dementia Get Worse Suddenly
Dementia is a progressive condition, meaning that it gets worse over time. The speed of deterioration differs between individuals. Age, general health and the underlying disease causing brain damage will all affect the pattern of progression. However, for some people the decline can be sudden and rapid.
Understand Why Someone With Dementia Says Mean Things
First, its important to understand why this hurtful behavior is happening.
Dementia is a brain disease that causes parts of the brain to shrink and lose their function, resulting in cognitive impairment.
These different parts control functions like memory, personality, behavior, and speech. Dementia also damages the ability to control impulses, which means actions arent intentional.
Even though its difficult, do your best to remember that they truly dont intend the mean things they say.
These mean comments and hurtful accusations often happen because the person is unable to express whats actually bothering them.
Working to accept the fact that theyre not doing this on purpose helps reduce stress and makes their behavior easier to manage.
The overall strategy is to take a deep breath, remind yourself that its not personal, take care of immediate discomfort or fear, and try to find the cause behind the behavior.
Next, look for long-term solutions that will help you get the support and rest you need to keep your cool in challenging situations like these.
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