How to Deal With a Loved One Who Is Living with Dementia
Mid- and late-dementia can come with difficult side effects for both the dementia patient and their loved ones. Aggressive dementia can leave the patient feeling angry, paranoid, sad, scared or confused. This can result in serious behavioral changes, such as violence and aggressiveness either in speech or action. While it’s sometimes difficult to notice dementia behavior, and while it’s hard to know the right course of action, there are organizations out there that can help.
Maintain a Positive Atmosphere
No matter how frustrated or sad you are about the dementia behavior your loved one is exhibiting, do your best to remain positive and upbeat. Always be respectful and kind when communicating with the dementia patient. Remember that people who are suffering from dementia need a lot of reassurance. Keep everything about you positive, from your voice and attitude to your body language and physical contact. This is especially important when the patient starts to become upset. By staying positive and redirecting the patient to something more enjoyable, you may be able to change the outcome.
Keep Communication Simple
Asking too many questions or stating something complex can make things even more difficult for the patient. It’s best to just say or ask one thing at a time. When asking questions, try to limit them to “yes” or “no” questions. Open-ended questions or offering a bunch of choices can be overwhelming and confusing. Whenever possible, use visuals to help you. For example, if you’re trying to find out what the patient wants to wear, hold up two outfit choices instead of trying to describe them with words.
Understand Where Aggression Comes From
Dementia behavior that turns violent or aggressive is scary and heartbreaking, but it’s important to remember that your loved one isn’t doing it on purpose. The aggression is most likely triggered by something that is upsetting them. For example, the patient may be physically uncomfortable or they may be confused about where they are. This can result in fear, which can come out in violent or aggressive ways. To help the patient remember something soothing, bring up memories from the past. While they may not be able to remember recent history, they often can recall events from years ago.
Get to the Root of Problems
When dementia patients make certain claims, it’s easy to assume it’s the disease talking. However, some of their statements may be based in truth. For example, if the patient claims that someone stole one of her belongings, it pays to dig a little further. Is the item still in their house? Do you know that it was there at some point? If so, where could it have gone? Is it possible that someone borrowed it and didn’t return it? Instead of assuming that the patient is unaware of the situation, consider the different possibilities that may be leading the patient to feel that something was stolen from them.
Make Activities Easier for the Patient
Some activities simply can’t be avoided, but they can be made much more manageable. Break down activities, even relatively simple ones, into small steps. Keep in mind that some activities that seem so commonplace to you may be difficult for the patient. Things like setting the dinner table can become frustrating if the patient doesn’t remember where they keep their plates or where to place their fork. By teaching the patient a series of small steps to follow, they’ll have an easier time carrying out their daily activities.
For more information about dementia care, get in touch with an expert at Watermark of Gulf Breeze.