- Be consistent. Set up a routine by calling the same day and the same time of each week, such as every Thursday at 3:00pm. When visiting a loved one living with dementia, ensure consistency by always cooking a meal together or engaging in activities that may help stave off symptoms of cognitive decline. Engaging activities, such as those included in Home Care Assistance’s Cognitive Therapeutics Method™, may include completing jigsaw puzzles or looking at a photo album.
- Promote calm. Soothing music and soft voices can create a compassionate and comforting environment for people with dementia. Bright lights should be softened. Keep soft things on hand such as a favorite blanket or a stuffed animal. These simple changes may help minimize agitation.
- Be patient when communicating. It can be perplexing when a family member or close family friend begins to lose cognitive abilities, especially when trying to communicate. Patience is crucial for handling these conditions. It may even be helpful to adopt new communication methods. For example, when you are presenting instructions to someone with dementia, provide only one instruction at a time.
- Limit stimulation. When you’re addressing someone with dementia, begin by removing audio distractions. Stand directly in front of the person, and use the person’s name when addressing them. This will prevent startling the person and will assist in bringing them back to the present moment.
- Be compassionate. Someone with dementia may experience anxiety and may or may not be able to communicate feelings of fear and helplessness. Be aware of his or her daily diet and sleep patterns as these can affect levels of anxiety. A gentle hand on the shoulder or a reassuring hug can help put someone at ease.
- Monitor nutrition. It may be helpful to supply multiple small meals throughout the day instead of the conventional three meals a day. In addition, monitor water intake. An appropriate amount would be between 5 to 10 eight-ounce glasses of water per day, depending on the person’s weight.
- Reassure your loved one. If traveling out of the home to a doctor’s appointment or other activity, provide reminders of where you’re going and why you’re going there to help him or her feel more comfortable. Reassure the person that you’re there to help them and that you will keep them safe.
- Maintain composure. If a person is hallucinating or confused, it’s not necessary to tell the person that they are wrong as it may increase agitation. Simply tell him or her that you aren’t experiencing what they are and reassure him or her that they are okay. For example, if a person says, “It’s almost Christmas,” when it’s March, resist the urge to correct them. Use this as an opportunity to ask the person to tell you a story about a previous Christmas.
- Avoid upsetting triggers. Does music on a television show unnerve someone with dementia? Make a note and change the channel when the show comes. By removing triggers that can upset people with dementia, a caregiver may be able to minimize anxiety and agitation.
- Reduce aggression. If a person with dementia becomes physically aggressive, maintain a safe distance until they calm down. Leave the room if necessary. Prior to leaving the room, remove sharp objects to prevent the person from hurting themselves.
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