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A person with dementia is not trying to be difficult, they are trying to understand the world through a new reality. For more than 47 million worldwide, dementia is a reality.
It is incomprehensible for most and is heartbreaking for family and loved ones. Caregivers can find it overwhelming to try to communicate with a dementia patient.
Keep reading to learn tips for communicating with a dementia patient in more effective ways.
1. Don’t Argue Facts with a Dementia Patient
It can be frustrating and futile to argue with someone suffering from dementia about facts like what day or year it is.
While it is unsettling for you when someone you care about is stuck in the past, correcting them can cause fear, frustration, embarrassment and other negative emotions for them.
Life is already confusing and quite frightening at times for someone suffering from dementia. Loved ones are not the only people feeling loss, fear, and frustration.
The individual is losing themselves. Their own mind is betraying them as they enter their own world. They need you to join them there, not try to pull them to a reality they no longer understand.
2. Don’t Offer Too Much Information At One Time
When your brain has difficulty processing information it can become overwhelming to receive too much at once. Give clear and concise choices that are easy to understand.
If you’re cueing them with activities of daily living such as getting dressed or eating dinner, offer gentle reminders and take it one step at a time to make it easier for them to naturally continue the activity.
Allow them to accomplish one action at a time and then guide them to be successful at the next one. Give them time to process what you’ve asked and offer prompts or aid if needed. But remember, the thing they need most is your patience.
3. Distraction and Redirection
It can be hard to know how to respond when a loved one gets fixated on something or becomes aggressively stubborn. This is common with many dementia patients and is to be expected from even previously well-tempered agreeable individuals.
Distraction and redirection are a good way to get through these moments of frustration. You may need to take five minutes and approach the idea of doing a certain activity at a later time.
Or you could discuss something else around the subject to see if you can have them suggest the activity themselves. If you want them to have a shower, perhaps discuss the smell of the shampoo they love, or how good the hot water feels on your shoulders when you have a shower.
You may need to suggest another activity before approaching the subject again. Don’t worry, while a person with dementia thrives with a schedule and routine, they also need caregivers who are flexible.
4. Stop and Think About The Dementia Patient
Remember they were a loved one long before they were a patient. It’s important to accommodate the dementia patient’s moods, desires, and opinions.
They still have emotions, moods, frustrations, and wake up on the wrong side of the bed. They have good and bad days, on top of dealing with dementia and other people.
Dementia patients are told when to wake up, eat, sleep, shower, toilet, and every other activity of the day. To stop and think about that will help you appreciate why they may be wanting to have some choice in their day.
5. Music and Memory
Music works miracles for the spirit and mood of dementia patients and is a great tool for reaching someone when trying to communicate with them.
A favorite song or melody, a loved TV show or a memory from childhood that evokes a smile can entirely change the mood and atmosphere with a dementia patient.
They Are Still There
It may seem like the dementia patient isn’t responding or even present. You may get frustrated while attempting to communicate with them but always remember they are still there.
Connect with them on their level and remind yourself of the qualities that are loved about them. Discuss the things they love and the love they have shared with you.Don’t forget to bookmark our page for great ideas of topics to discuss and things to make your life the best it can be!