Our loved one’s sense of reality may now be different from ours, but it is still very real to him or her. As caregivers, we can’t change the person with dementia, but we can employ strategies to modify or better accommodate any problem behaviors.
Both the environment you create at home and the way you communicate with your loved one can make a significant difference. Communication difficulties can be one of the most upsetting aspects of caring for someone with Alzheimer’s or some other type of dementia — and it’s frustrating for those with the disease and for loved ones.
Although it can be hard to understand why people with dementia act the way they do, the explanation is attributable to their disease and the changes it causes in the brain. The below mentioned tips can help you deal with an elderly with dementia at home in a better manner-
- As an elder care provider your attitude and body language communicate your feelings and thoughts stronger than your words. Set a positive mood by speaking to your loved one in a pleasant and respectful manner. Use facial expressions, tone of voice and physical touch to help convey your message and show your feelings of affection.
- It is very important that you acquire the person’s attention at home. Limit distractions and noise. You may turn off the radio or TV, close the curtains or shut the door, or move to quieter surroundings. Before speaking, make sure you have her attention, address her by name, identify yourself by name and relation, and use nonverbal cues and touch to help keep her focused. If she is seated, get down to her level and maintain eye contact.
- The worst thing you can do is engage in an argument or force the issue that’s creating the aggression. Don’t try to forcibly restrain the person unless there is absolutely no choice. As an elder care provider the biggest way to stop aggressive behavior is to remove the word ‘no’ from your vocabulary.
- Break down activities into a series of steps. This makes many tasks much more manageable. You can encourage your loved one to do what he can, gently remind him of steps he tends to forget, and assist with steps he’s no longer able to accomplish on his own. Using visual cues, such as showing him with your hand where to place the dinner plate, can be very helpful.
- Maintain your sense of humor is of utmost importance. Use humor whenever possible, though not at the person’s expense. People with dementia tend to retain their social skills and are usually delighted to laugh along with you.
Caring for a loved one with dementia poses many challenges for families and caregivers. Familiarize yourself with some of the common situations that arise when someone has dementia, so that if your loved one says something shocking, you’ll know how to respond calmly and effectively. Needless to say the best medicine is patience and empathy to help treat a person with dementia.