As your loved one grow older, their mobility and memory begin to fade. If your loved one suffers from Alzheimer's or Dementia, their memory loss can progress more quickly than expected. More often than not, they are unaware of the amount of their memory that is fading away. This can cause the family to become unsure how to communicate with their loved ones in a usual way. We want to provide you with a few tips for communicating with a loved one that has Dementia.
Someone with Dementia can be prone to heightened anger or frustration because when you tell them parts of their life they do not remember, they can appear confident that it never happened. When you try to argue reality with them, they become frustrated, which can only cause their memory loss to become worse. By remaining calm and positive, they will pick up and emulate those same feelings, and your interaction can become more successful. When someone with Dementia is relaxed, their short-term memory can retain information longer. Dementia often affects their short-term memory first, so they can revert to a time they were a certain age or were at a certain point in their life. This is the reason they are often asking to go home or when they are leaving. Their minds are at a different point in their lives, and they recall memories as the present. While this confuses them, it can provoke family members to correct their loved ones.
This will only result in anger and sadness.
Start your conversation of light and cheerful. Take your family member to a place free of distractions so that they can focus on the exchange. There you can have the most success in an ordinary conversation. The simpler the questions, the easier it is to receive an answer. If you ask open-ended questions, the options can overwhelm their brain, causing them to become confused in thought. Remember to keep up the humor, but not at the expense of your loved one. While Dementia affects the memory often, they retain social skills enough to laugh alongside you.
Conducting Activities with Someone That Has Dementia
The most relaxing activity for someone with Dementia is playing games they knew how to play when they were a kid or grabbing a bite to eat. The most rewarding activities are based on memories that live in their long term memory, such as places to eat, parks to go to, or movies to watch. This allows them to feel the most comfortable doing something they remember doing before. Short term memory is often the first to go, so doing the same activity you did a couple of days ago is foreign to them and can cause them to feel nervous or anxious. If you decide to do something new for them or something you know they may not be able to recall try breaking down the activity into steps. This allows them to grasp the concept of the action more quickly. Remember that if an activity or conversation subject becomes too tough, distract and redirect the conversation. This allows them to remain calm and continue their time with you in a relaxing way.
How to Handle Difficult Reactions
A loved one that has Dementia can often have personality and mood shifts. It is essential to know you cannot change that person. However they choose to react is in their right. Just because they may not seem like the same person as last week does not mean they are not physically the same person. If you notice significant changes in their mood, it is essential to be in touch with their doctor or nurse to know if this is an adverse reaction to a change in their medication or not. Just like anybody else, these mood shifts can be a result of behavioral triggers. Many elders with Dementia have similar motivations. Such as being told they are wrong or that what they remember is not valid. These triggers are every right of people that do not have Dementia. As children, you are taught to rely on your gut and your brain for guidance. By telling a person in their old age that their brain or body is wrong, they become overwhelmed by the feeling of betrayal of their own body and become angered quickly. This is why keeping conversations light, simple, and positive evokes the most successful reaction out of your loved ones with Dementia.
Always Be There For Them
For your loved ones, this is a new change in their life. They may lose the memory of you overtime but being there for them soothes the soul. You can talk to them about the good old days. This is where your conversation can thrive. You may even learn more about your loved one that you did not know before. When your loved ones reference something you are sure did not happen, always keep in mind that they have lived a long life, and if they believe they did something they didn't, what is the harm in letting them feel it. If you make them doubt their own body and mind, the Dementia could progress faster with stress. They have lived an extraordinary life, and you are proof of that.
We at Coastal Breeze Assisted Living provide excellent memory care that can help prolong the effects of Dementia and help your loved ones remember more. Call us today at 858-922-9906 for more information.