It is difficult coming to terms with a loved one’s dementia. Simple forgetfulness eventually progresses in patients with this condition, turning into life-threatening impairment. Some people would even need to be housed in dementia care homes for their own health and safety.
Eventually, even the patient’s personality changes and loved ones are left to deal with the fact that the person they are caring for has become completely different. People with relatives who have dementia can learn how to cope with this by keeping some tips in mind.
1. Understand what you’re facing
There is no workaround; dementia will get worse with time. It will become increasingly difficult for loved ones to understand why their relative is acting a certain way; they might get angry or have outbursts for no apparent reason, or they might seem to ignore things said to them. In time, you might even need to assist them with basic tasks like eating and bathing.
Some days, though, you will have flashes of how your loved one used to be. Keep these in mind. Though they are fleeting, let these moments remind you that this is a person you know well, and their old personality is intact but inaccessible. The right tools and approaches can let you reach that old self, and communicate more meaningfully with your dementia patient.
2. Set aside time to talk to them
Block out time in your schedule to talk to your loved one. If you are living together, sit with them in a room without distractions. If you are apart, make your space conducive to a phone or video call. Taking the time to set up your area prepares you mentally and emotionally; you must focus all your mental energy to your loved one, and pay attention to what they are saying.
During your conversation, speak naturally in a calm voice. Do not talk down on your dementia patient, and do not be dismissive of feelings or stories they want to share. This is their time, you scheduled this for them, so you must honor what they have to tell you. You can also set an appointment with a memory care consultant and learn other techniques in making conversation.
3. Help them keep up with the conversation
Supply your patient with names; this is especially important for greetings or the start of conversations. Say “Grandma, it’s Annie, your granddaughter,” or “This is John, your nephew.” You should keep reminding them of nouns whenever you could. They might not be able to get names straight even after you’ve mentioned these recently.
They might not also have the mental energy to keep up with various stories. When speaking with a dementia patient, you should take things one step at a time; introduce one narrative and resolve it before jumping to a new one. Show them pictures if necessary, to help them visualize what you are talking about.
4. Be liberal with nonverbal cues
Maintain eye contact, smile when talking, and nod or shake your head when necessary. Your loved ones will be encouraged to keep speaking when you give them visual cues. Nonverbal communication makes up a big part of how humans relate; we give life to words through hand gestures, facial expressions, and posture.
Furthermore, nonverbal communication might be the only way you can convey things to dementia patients in the later stages of Alzheimer’s or similar conditions.
5. Be patient and don’t fight with them
Give your loved one time to digest information. They might need something repeated to them, or you might have to make a concept simpler. Take the time to do so. You also need to resist the urge to correct what they say. Let the simpler inaccuracies go and focus on forming a connection with them.
It’s never an option to quit caring for a dementia patient. Even if the person does not live with you at home, you should still talk to them regularly, and keep them engaged and socially active. Learning how to communicate with them and adapting to your new reality will help you get through to your loved ones.
Patients with dementia need round-the-clock care, something that many families struggle to provide. If you are looking for memory care facilities in Houston, contact Complete Dementia Solution today.