How do I care for someone with dementia?
While it is often challenging and overwhelming to provide care for someone with dementia, there are some tips for making it go as smoothly as possible, for both you and your loved one with dementia:
- Educate yourself about dementia, and think about the life story of the person for whom you are caring. What were their routines and interests pre-dementia? What was their childhood like?
- Think about adapting their environment to them, as opposed to trying to get them to adapt to their environment.
- Understand any traumatic incidents in their past and avoid doing or saying anything to revisit them.
- Focus on validation instead of reality orientation:
- Validation involves living in their reality, even if it is not accurate.
- Reality orientation means trying to correct them, and can lead to increased agitation.
- Communicate with short sentences and speak slowly—their brain is damaged and may need extra time to process. Don’t speak loudly unless they also have a hearing problem.
- Ask yes/no questions, or offer two choices, as opposed to asking open-ended questions. Be prepared to repeat yourself.
- Recognize what activities make them happiest and focus on those, letting them do what they want to do as long as they are safe.
- Consider hiring outside help, even if only for a few hours a week, to provide support and expert guidance on strategies, approaches, and techniques for caring for someone with dementia.
Common Questions About Dementia
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