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Caring for a Loved One With Dementia

  • 4 mins

Dementia describes a collection of symptoms that are caused by disorders affecting the brain. Dementia can change someone’s needs and behaviour and if you are a person caring for a loved one with Dementia, this can sometimes be upsetting to see and experience.
Caring for a Loved One with Dementia
Dementia describes a collection of symptoms that are caused by disorders affecting the brain. Dementia can change someone’s needs and behaviour and if you are a person caring for a loved one with Dementia, this can sometimes be upsetting to see and experience.
Dementia can make it increasingly difficult for those living with the condition to think clearly, communicate with others, remember things and take care of themselves. If you are caring for a person with Dementia, by adapting your approaches with this in mind, you can make caring for them less stressful and challenging.

Establish a Positive Mood for Interactions
When interacting with someone living with Dementia, keep in mind that your body language and attitude communicate your feelings more strongly than your words do. By interacting in a pleasant and respectful manner, you can set a positive mood. Reducing the amount of stimulus in an environment can also help your loved one focus their attention better, e.g. turning off radios and TVs.

Simplifying Communication
Keep your communication clear and simple. Watch and respond to non-verbal cues and body language. Be patient when your loved one is struggling to communicate. Speak in clear and simple terms, asking one question at a time in a slower, lower pitched voice. Maintain eye contact and use the names of people and places, avoiding pronouns and abbreviations.
Avoid asking open ended questions or giving too many choices. Yes or no answers tend to work best. Use visual prompts and cues where possible, e.g. “would you like this shirt or this one?” When they don’t understand, repeat what you said in the exact same words. If they still don’t understand, wait a few minutes and rephrase what you said.

Managing Fluctuations in Mood
People living with Dementia can often feel anxious, confused and unsure of themselves. It’s common to recall things that never happened. In these cases, avoid telling them they are wrong and respond with reassurance and affection. Stay focused on their feelings, which are real.
People with Dementia can also become upset or agitated. When this occurs, try to change the subject or environment. For example, you could suggest going for a walk. Once again, it’s important to acknowledge their feelings by saying something along the lines of “I’m sorry that you are feeling upset”.

Wandering
People with Dementia can be prone to wandering due to boredom or to look for “something” or someone. It can also be a side effect of medication or be a sign of them trying to fulfil a physical need such as thirst, hunger or a need to use the toilet. Remember that all behaviour is triggered or has a purpose, whether it’s a need to be busy and productive or a change in the physical environment.
Determining why your loved one wanders can be difficult but can provide insights into dealing with their behaviour. If you find that the wandering may be occurring due to restlessness, schedule in regular exercise to minimise their need to wander. You can always consult aged care professionals to help determine the cause.

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With offices in South Australia, Queensland, New South Wales, Western Australia, Victoria, Tasmania and the ACT, we can help older Australians across the country. Contact our team today to find out more about our aged care and disability care services.

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