By Grace Smith, RN, BSN
Some dementia causes are irreversible but there is still some things that families can do to help their loved ones continue to function as much as possible. Creating a safe, comfortable and supportive environment for someone with dementia is of utmost importance. The following are tips that families of persons with dementia can use to help reduce some of the stress that they may have:
Techniques for Dementia Care
- Daily Routine
Following a daily routine pattern can be especially helpful for those dealing with general confusion; plan major activities around that time of day when your loved one is less confused or is more cooperative; you can get things done more easily.
- If you want to have a conversation with your loved one, try and minimize distractions, you can do so by turning the TV and radio off, or move away from anything that may take away their attention from what you are trying to achieve.
- Call them by their name, and make sure he/she is looking at and listening to you before speaking. Choose simple words and use short sentences in a gentle, calm tone of voice, and speak clearly and directly to them.
- Be patient with the person with dementia; give them enough time to respond and do not interrupt them, especially if they are struggling to find the words to communicate.
Studies have shown that music is soothing and a very effective form of dementia therapy. It can help to reduce behaviors, such as agitation and aggression, especially during mealtimes and bathing. However, the music should be something that the person with dementia prefers, not necessarily what you, the caregiver, thinks would be best to listen to.
Bath time should be planned in advance to help make it much better for both of you, because having dementia can make bathing a frightening and confusing experience. Limit bathing by replacing some showers with sponge baths because they may not need a full shower every day; it also depends on how active your loved ones are.
- Get everything that you may need ahead of time for the bath, and tell your loved
- one what you are going to do, and go step by step, while allowing them to do as
- much as possible. Set the water to the right temperature and make sure that the
- bathroom is warm enough. Think about it; if the bathroom is cold, it’s unpleasant
- and they might not want to take off their clothes.
Getting dressed can be a challenge for persons with dementia, from choosing what to wear, to figuring out how to properly take things off and put other things on; so here are few things you can do to help make the process a little easier:
Allow the person with dementia to choose from 2 outfits; lay them out on the bed so that they can pick with ease. Clothing for those suffering from dementia should be comfortable and easy to get on and off; having elastic waists, Velcro closures and zippers, will presents less stress for them. It’s great to encourage independence.
- Ensure a quiet and calm atmosphere for eating; limiting noise and other
- distractions may help the person focus on the meal. Persons with dementia may
- have limited appetites and attention spans; therefore serving meals in small
- portions and supplementing these with snacks, will help.
- Using straws or cups with lids will make drinking easier; using bowls instead of plates may also help encourage independent eating.
ACTIVITIES & EXERCISE
Incorporating physical and mental stimulation into the daily routines is important for both caregivers and their loved ones. The following tips are helpful in making regular exercise and other activities a part of daily life:
- activities that are simple and fun for everyone such as game nights, going on outings, or walking are great ways to get them stimuated.
- to avoid frustration and overexertion, you may need to modify favorite activities to match their abilities. Always go step by step, and slowly; got to have patience with them.
- Check out your local senior centers, because some of them do offer classes and activities suitable for those with dementia.
There are different types of dementia, and we’ll talk more about that in our next blog.
If you or anyone looking for homecare services or needing help with taking care of your loved one with dementia, in the Fairfield and New Haven Counties, First Place Home Care is here to help. Give us a call today at 203-345-1400; we’ll be happy to talk to you.