Although providing care to those with dementia can be especially difficult, there are many things you can do to make the process easier on everyone.
- Get Their Attention
Before speaking to the individual, make sure you have their attention. Address the individual by name and identify yourself by name and title, for example, “Jane, I’m John, your caregiver.” Use nonverbal cues and eye contact to keep the individual’s attention.
- State Messages Clearly
Use simple words and sentences, speak slowly, and repeat the statement or question if they don’t understand. Long messages can confuse a person further or lose their attention. Be literal with your statements, as metaphors or sarcasm may go unnoticed by those with dementia.
- Stay Calm
It is easy to become agitated when someone does not understand you, even after several times repeating something. Try to remain calm and repeat the statement without changing your tone of voice. The individual will likely pick up on your agitation and may also become agitated.
- Break Activities Into Steps
Rather than reminding an individual with dementia to do an entire process, break the process into steps. Reminders of the next step in the process can help the individual work through the process without becoming overwhelmed.
- Familiarize Yourself
Being aware of the types of situations you may find yourself in during care can ease the stress and confusion during the event. Do research on the condition and take notes on the individual so you can learn their behaviors and triggers.
A daily routine should be created to keep the individual and yourself at ease. You may have more success with certain activities at different times of the day. Take this into consideration when developing your routine.
Make time for regular exercise with the individual to minimize restlessness of those with dementia. If wandering is common, consider installing “child-safe” equipment on all outside doors to make it more difficult for the individual to leave on their own. Make sure the individual wears an ID bracelet which can easily be checked for their information and condition if they should wander off.
If the individual becomes confused, use simple explanations, photos, and tangible reminders to bring them out of confusion.
If the individual seems bored, it may be time to introduce a new activity or take a break for rest. Enjoyment and a sense of accomplishment are more important than the type of activity or how well it is completed.
Music can soothe and reduce aggression and agitation in several situations. The individual’s favorite types of music are generally the most effective. Pay attention to the rhythm of the music, which can affect the mood of the individual.
- Art Projects
Completing art projects can create a sense of accomplishment and purpose in the individual. This is an opportunity for self-expression, which allows the individual to display their emotions in a healthy way. Avoid sharp tools or toxic materials which could injure the individual.
Solving puzzles can be a great activity to encourage use of intellectual skills in those with dementia; this requires them to think about the correct placement of pieces, and the correct answers to problems.
Dementia is a difficult condition for both individuals and their caregivers. Taking care to treat the individual appropriately can make it easier on everyone.