For a senior loved one with dementia, the world can be frightening, baffling, frustrating, and threatening. When experiencing shifting reality, reassurance can be comforting. Here’s the difference reassurance makes in providing dementia care.
Attempts to maintain control may include throwing objects, pushing, and hitting. If your senior loved one is combative, first determine why. Think about what occurred just before the flare-up. Common triggers are physical discomfort, loud sounds, and busy surroundings. Listen for the feelings behind the behavior, then calmly validate your loved one’s viewpoint. Next, try to cast the undesirable activity in a pleasant light. You might also pair soothing words with a favorite object.
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Lacking short-term memory, your loved one may revert to a time when he or she felt secure. Since you can’t take your loved one back to the past, try to adopt his or her perspective, as long as it’s safe.
Trying to orient a senior with dementia usually doesn’t work. Forcing the issue by insisting on the present time and place can be traumatizing. If your loved one won’t budge from his or her stance, direct his or her attention to a different activity. This strategy should be friendly rather than commanding.
Fear has various triggers, such as time of day, surroundings, unfamiliarity, dreading tasks, anticipating discomfort, and difficulty communicating. Loss of memory and independence erode confidence. Apprehension also stems from the inability to process new information.
Once you identify the cause of worry, address it with soothing tones and words. Smiles, hugs, and kisses are some of the many gestures that relieve anxiety and raise self-esteem. If possible, change the environment or situation so it’s less frightening. You might try playing calming music or singing softly to ensure your loved one’s comfort. If your parent is cringing or hesitating, ask permission or provide choices. Divide an overwhelming task into small steps.
Removes Suspicion & Blame
Dementia often causes seniors to misinterpret what they see and hear, and memory loss can lead to paranoia. Your loved one might blame missing items on theft and make accusations. However, it’s likely that objects are misplaced, and suggesting this may prompt aggression.
Listen attentively and acknowledge what’s said without arguing or trying to convince your loved one otherwise. State that you’re also concerned and will help your loved one find the lost object. One strategy some caregivers use is buying duplicates of commonly lost items. If the absent article can’t be found or duplicated, use redirection.
Calming and reassuring a senior with dementia can be difficult at times. Caring for seniors with dementia can be challenging for family caregivers. Luckily, there is dementia care Columbia families can rely on. Professional dementia caregivers help seniors with dementia stay safe and comfortable at home by preventing wandering, providing cognitive stimulation, and assisting with household chores.
Signs of dementia include saying and doing things repeatedly, pacing, and undoing tasks that have just been completed. Repetitive actions are usually driven by the need to feel comfortable and secure, but they can also signal boredom. If you can trace the action to the need, fulfilling the need may stop the routine. If you can’t, gauge the underlying feeling and respond with comforting words or a gentle touch.
You may be able to divert the repetition with a visual aid such as a fond photograph. If not, steer your loved one to a pleasant activity. Another effective technique is “bridge phrasing,” which involves picking up the thread of a conversation and expanding it. Make sure the subject of the conversation is something that will capture your loved one’s interest.
Prevents Forgetfulness & Confusion
Dementia makes it difficult to remember and recognize familiar things. Your loved one may forget people, names, and the purpose of everyday objects such as forks and pens. If your loved one gets upset by a memory lapse, calmly and casually reassure him or her. Use photos and other known items to help your loved one recall people, things, and places, and keep your explanations brief. Ensure mental stimulation by providing puzzles, reading material, board games, hobby supplies, and socialization. Encourage your loved one to learn new skills.
As a consoling presence, you can prevent your loved one from experiencing aggression, disorientation, anxiety, suspicion, repetition, forgetfulness, and confusion. Staying calm in stressful situations makes them more manageable. Be generous with your smiles, hugs, kisses, and kind words. Your warm support fosters cooperation, confidence, self-esteem, and trust. In times of distress, reassurance shows how much you care.
Hiring a professional caregiver is one of the best ways to help seniors manage the symptoms of dementia and enjoy a high quality of life. Families looking for top-rated Columbia in-home care providers can reach out to Assisting Hands Home Care. From respite care to specialized Alzheimer’s, dementia, stroke, and Parkinson’s care, there are many ways we can make life easier for seniors and their loved ones. To talk to one of our friendly Care Managers and create a customized senior care plan, call us at (443) 233-1245.