Dealing with people who are suffering from dementia can be challenging at times. However, this should not scare you. Dementia is the term used to describe the decline in mental ability that is serious enough to weaken a person’s ability to perform daily tasks. If you are caring for a person with dementia, you need to understand them so you can respond accordingly to their needs.
Here are some common situations that will help you familiarize yourself with the situation and know how to respond when these situations occur.
People with dementia often forget things. They get confused or sad when these situations happen. You can hear them utter “Who are you?”, “Why are you her?”, and other outbursts. When faced with these questions, here’s what you can do.
Do: Make them feel safe. If they don’t recognize you, make them feel comfortable with your company. Redirect their attention to something that might interest them. If they start to argue that you’re wrong with something, don’t talk back in the same manner.
Don’t: Do not explain things in lengthy sentences. This will just be more stressful and confusing. Make your reasons and your sentences short and sweet.
2. Aggressive Behavior
People who are suffering from dementia are prone to aggressive behavior when they feel helpless or afraid. This usually happens when they are uncomfortable in a situation or when they feel that their needs are not being met. During these situations they might kick, bite, or hit you.
Do: Remain calm. Use the knowledge that you have about the person and understand what they need or the cause of their discomfort. Bear in mind that the person doesn’t want to hurt you. It’s just that they feel threatened and helpless when you don’t understand what they want to say.
Don’t: Refrain from contradicting them or engaging in an argument. Do not correct everything they are saying because it doesn’t matter. What matters is the thought or feeling that they want you to understand.
3. Poor Judgment
There are times when a person with dementia will have trouble with decision-making because of the deterioration of the brain cells. These can be exhibited through delusions and unwise decisions.
Do: Help in small ways. Help them stay organized and assess the extent of their problem. If they are having problems with their finances, flip through their documents and offer help in a way that they will not feel threatened.
Don’t: You don’t need to take over every decision. Make sure that you don’t blatantly question their ability to decide for themselves.
In the end, what you need to understand is that people with dementia feel like other people don’t understand them. Try to listen and understand what they’re saying and respond accordingly. These are just some of the do’s and don’ts that you need to know when caring for a person with dementia.
Written by The Village Of Bedford Walk, a senior living community in Columbia, MO.