Tips For Home Safety For People With Dementia
As a caregiver or family member to a person with Alzheimers or related dementias, you can take steps to make the home a safer place. Removing hazards and adding safety features around the home can help give the person more freedom to move around independently and safely. Try these tips:
- If you have stairs, make sure there is at least one handrail. Put carpet or safety grip strips on stairs, or mark the edges of steps with brightly colored tape so they are more visible.
- Insert safety plugs into unused electrical outlets and consider safety latches on cabinet doors.
- Clear away unused items and remove small rugs, electrical cords, and other items the person may trip over.
- Make sure all rooms and outdoor areas the person visits have good lighting.
- Remove curtains and rugs with busy patterns that may confuse the person.
- Remove or lock up cleaning and household products, such as paint thinner and matches.
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 might 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.
Organizing Your Loved Ones Room And Belongings
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How To Finish The Conversation
Just as you prepared to start a conversation, so you must think about how you will bring it to a close. If you are leaving the persons home, make sure you say goodbye. You should not leave the person thinking you are still in their home, perhaps in another room. This may cause confusion or anxiety.
Ensure you have their attention, smile, and let them know you enjoyed your time together and the conversation. Shaking their hand or touching them is a common gesture which gives them a strong clue you are leaving. Leave them reassured and let them know you look forward to talking again. If you are likely to be speaking to them very soon, for example later that day, say when you will return and leave a note close by indicating when the next visit will be.
Grieving Lost Minds: Go Purple For Alzheimers And Brain Awareness Month
Have you lost your mind? For most its a rhetorical question, but for 47 million people, the answer is a tragic yes.
Im not talking about losing your mind in heated moments when stress clutters thinking or when youve reacted rashly during a brief lapse in judgement.
Im also not talking about the fog of grief that messes with your mind after loved ones die .
Im talking about dementia, a general term for impaired thinking caused by brain damage dead brain cells. Whether dementia patients suffer because of injury, illness or age, they have literally lost parts of their minds. And that loss inflicts a unique grief.
Ive written and rewritten this post for two weeks because, as much as I wanted to put the information out there, the topic is too close to home for me.
According to the Alzheimers Association,. You can find more information, including facts and ways you can help, by visiting their website here:
Global facts and national statistics are important, but the devastation of dementia is personal. It erodes people of every age, and it damages the health and well-being of patients families, too.
The grief and frustration of dementia come from living with two symptoms of life-impeding mental deterioration:
- short- or long-term memory loss
- illogical thinking or diminished reasoning
- skewed sensory perception
- unfocused attention
- mangled communication
Let them know you will be there to step in with them in whatever areas they need help in.
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.
‘what Did You Do This Morning’
Avoid asking too many open-ended questions, as it could be stressful for a person with dementia if they cant remember the answer. While it might seem polite to ask somebody about their day, its better to focus on whats happening in the present. Its also important that people with dementia continue to make personal choices, but defining the options might be a helpful technique.
Try this instead:
Rather than what would you like to drink?, you could ask do you want tea or coffee? or more simply, do you want a cup of tea?.
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Caregiving In The Early Stages Of Alzheimers Or Dementia
In the early stages of Alzheimers disease or another type of dementia, your loved one may not need much caregiving assistance. Rather, your role initially may be to help them come to terms with their diagnosis, plan for the future, and stay as active, healthy, and engaged as possible.
Accept the diagnosis. Accepting a dementia diagnosis can be just as difficult for family members as it for the patient. Allow yourself and your loved one time to process the news, transition to the new situation, and grieve your losses. But dont let denial prevent you from seeking early intervention.
Deal with conflicting emotions. Feelings of anger, frustration, disbelief, grief, denial, and fear are common in the early stages of Alzheimers or dementiafor both the patient and you, the caregiver. Let your loved one express what theyre feeling and encourage them to continue pursuing activities that add meaning and purpose to their life. To deal with your own fears, doubts, and sadness, find others you can confide in.
Make use of available resources. There are a wealth of community and online resources to help you provide effective care on this journey. Start by finding the Alzheimers Association in your country . These organizations offer practical support, helplines, advice, and training for caregivers and their families. They can also put you in touch with local support groups.
Planning For The Future
- Talk to the person with dementia to make sure that they have a current up-to-date will that reflects their wishes.
- Encourage the person with dementia to set up a Lasting Power of Attorney so that a responsible person can make decisions on their behalf when they are no longer able to.
- Talk to the person with dementia about making an advance decision to refuse certain types of medical treatment in certain situations. It will only be used when the person with dementia has lost the capacity to make or communicate the decision in the future.
- If the person youre caring for has already lost the ability to make or communicate decisions but doesnt have an LPA, you can apply to the Court of Protection who can make decisions on behalf of that person or appoint someone else to do so.
If the person you care for drives, the law requires them to tell DVLA about their diagnosis. A diagnosis of dementia doesn’t automatically mean someone has to stop driving straight away what matters is that they can drive safely.
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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.
The Behavior We See And Do Not See
Referring back to my point about distress behaviors related to someone with dementia, there are instances that a nurse or caregiver cannot see. What we see are the gestures, body language, words, or tones coming from the person with dementia and may be interpreted as acting out or anxiety, or being out of control. However, what the person with dementia is trying to communicate may be experiences, fears, prejudices, feelings, values, and beliefs that need further assessment. These behaviors are what we cannot see during our interaction with them at that time.
Do not ignore or say OK, you need some Ativan to calm down. There may be an instance where the patient may need Ativan or Xanax but not every time they display a distress behavior. For example, Lucy may come to you saying, Did you know I had a chicken coop? Your response may be to deny that she does. Her response could be a distress behavior to possibly avoid the risk of her flailing her arms everywhere and getting upset. Instead say, Tell me about your chicken coop. This builds trust between you and that individual and will modify the distress behavior producing a positive outcome.
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It May Feel Like The First Time For The Person With Dementia
Short-term memory loss in a person with dementia can prove challenging for family and friends and when providing care and support. While you may see the person several times during a day, each visit may feel like the first for them. This can have a great impact on a conversation, so consider how you would respond. The best approach for a care worker in these circumstances may be to introduce yourself on each visit and explain why you are there.
Think About How The Person May Be Feeling
Try to put yourself in their shoes or seat. What is their emotional state likely to be? Are they relaxed and happy or anxious and distressed? Are they calm or frightened? Are they likely to respond to humour or are they angry and frustrated? You may be aware of whats been happening to them prior to your conversation. If not, try to find out so you can think about your approach.
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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 the person you care for. Here are some tips:
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 more useful information including how to react, working out triggers, and dealing with your own feelings.
It’s worth bearing in mind that distress and confusion may be caused by other health needs than dementia. Always discuss any concerns with the person’s GP so they can check for physical causes of symptoms.
What Not To Do To People With Alzheimer’s Disease
Do you know someone who has Alzheimer’s disease? If you don’t, it might be only a matter of time before you do.
The Alzheimer’s Association estimates that approximately 5.8 million Americans have Alzheimer’s or another kind of dementia. Sooner or later, you are likely to cross paths with someone who has dementia.
Here are our top 10 “don’ts” when it comes to interacting with someone who has Alzheimer’s disease:
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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.
Coping With Changes In Behavior And Personality
As well as changes in communication during the middle stages of dementia, troubling behavior and personality changes can also occur. These behaviors include aggressiveness, wandering, hallucinations, and eating or sleeping difficulties that can be distressing to witness and make your role as caregiver even more difficult.
Often, these behavioral issues are triggered or exacerbated by your loved ones inability to deal with stress, their frustrated attempts to communicate, or their environment. By making some simple changes, you can help ease your loved ones stress and improve their well-being, along with your own caregiving experience.
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Distract With Another Fun Activity
After validating what they have to say, move seamlessly onto something else in order to redirect their attention and try to distract them with another activity. For instance, you might say, Well go home, but lets first clean up this room, or Lets go for a walk. A fun activity can keep them occupied and not thinking about home.
‘do You Need Some Help With That Love’
Words like love, honey and dear can sometimes be patronising for people living with dementia. This is particularly true if this is not how they were referred to before having dementia. This is sometimes referred to as elderspeak and can cause older people to feel infantilised.
Try this instead:
Always remember the person behind the dementia, using their name as often as appropriate. This helps keep their dignity intact and aids concentration too.
Contact our Dementia Connect support line if you would like support from one of our advisers.
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Be Direct Specific And Positive
Here are some examples of what you can say:
- Lets try this way, instead of pointing out mistakes.
- Please do this, instead of Dont do this.
- Thanks for helping, even if the results arent perfect.
You also can:
- Ask questions that require a yes or no answer. For example, you could say, Are you tired? instead of How do you feel?
- Limit the number of choices. For example, you could say, Would you like a hamburger or chicken for dinner? instead of What would you like for dinner?
- Use different words if he or she doesn’t understand the first time. For example, if you ask the person whether he or she is hungry and you dont get a response, you could say, Dinner is ready now. Lets eat.
- Try not to say, Dont you remember? or I told you.
If you become frustrated, take a timeout for yourself.
Why Someone With Dementia Asks To Go Home
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.
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.