Dementia is a general category of conditions that impair memory, personality, and reasoning. Alzheimer’s disease is the best-known type of dementia, but patients suffering from Lewy Bodies dementia, vascular dementia, and frontotemporal dementia all experience similar symptoms. No matter which type of dementia a person has, there are a few things his or her loved ones can do to make visits more pleasant for everyone.
1. Visit Often
When dementia patients move into memory care units, their family members are encouraged to visit as often as possible, especially during the first few weeks after the move. Having familiar faces around helps loved ones adjust to new surroundings. Families looking for an exceptional memory care unit for someone who has recently been diagnosed with dementia can check out parcprovence.com.
2. Make Adjustments
It’s unfair to expect a loved one with dementia to make adjustments during a visit. Instead, the visitor needs to take responsibility for adjusting to the resident’s new reality. Don’t expect to have the same kind of conversations or be able to share new information without carefully considering its impact on the patient.
3. Redirect Conversations
It can get frustrating answering the same questions over and over again, but dementia patients don’t mean to irritate their guests. Instead of getting frustrated, try redirecting the conversation by transitioning to a different subject. Answer the question, then use a transition phrase to respectfully divert the conversation to another subject such as music, memories of the past, a humorous anecdote, or engagement in a new activity.
4. Expect Outbursts
It’s common for dementia patients to become angry or frustrated, causing outbursts. There’s no sense arguing with the person since dementia tends to impact cognitive skills like reasoning. Instead, try to connect on an emotional level and use techniques like redirection and relearning to focus on the positive.
5. Encourage Feeling Comfortable About Memory Loss
People of all ages forget the occasional name or get the details of stories wrong, so don’t fixate on mistakes. Instead, try to use humor to make the patient feel more comfortable with his or her memory loss and normalize it by finding ways to relate. Most people also avoid pointing out minor lapses in memory or details of stories that don’t quite make sense, as there’s really no benefit to doing so.
6. Be Patient
Visitors should expect to repeat themselves and hear the same stories multiple times. If the patient has advanced-stage dementia, he or she may also have difficulty recognizing loved ones and remembering them. Be patient and try to remain calm. It may be helpful for those who find visits extremely emotionally taxing to limit them to shorter periods, as short, positive, more frequent visits are better for dementia patients than longer, more stressful visits.
7. Limit Options
When asking questions, try to offer just two alternatives. For example, ask whether a person wants to watch a movie or do a puzzle, not just what the person wants to do. It makes it easier for dementia patients to make decisions then follow through and participate in fun activities.
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The Bottom Line
Communicating with loved ones suffering from dementia can be difficult, but positive visits can brighten up a resident’s day and make him or her feel valued and loved. Be patient and take steps to accommodate dementia patients. It’s worth the time and effort.