Yesterday, I shared some of my thoughts about the need for better understanding of dementia and having additional resources to help care partners. Today, I will give some of my suggestions as to what I think might lighten the burden of care partners.
I feel there are several basic tenants that need to be remembered when talking with someone who has dementia. I would suggest the following tips:
1. Do not talk too loud or too soft, but be sensitive if there appears to be a hearing problem. Always look at them in the eye. It is important not to
change the tone of ones voice. Increasing the tone, may cause the person
with dementia to feel as if, you are frustrated with them. If this occurs, they
will get upset and likely have an inappropriate response.
2. Do not talk too fast or too slow....be distinct in communication.
3. Always provide clear and concise information. If a description is being
given along with what the person is being asked to do, always, give the
the description first and the task last. An example of this might be: "If
it is not any trouble, please take the groceries out of the car", instead of
"Please take the groceries out of the car, if it is not any trouble". If the later communication was given to me, I often would not have be able to remember what I was asked to do, especially if there was a pause. With the second example, I might immediately become agitated and difficult to deal with. Often, I might have been given medication to control my
behavior. In this situation, I did not cause the problem, the person
communicating with me did.
4. Be patient with them......they may be slow responding. If someone
interrupts me, while I am talking, I will lose my train of thought and have no
ideas abut the conversation. This is very upsetting to me, and I will often
5. If the person with dementia is in a group conversation, always try to look
at the person with dementia frequently. This will help them feel a stronger
connection to the conversation. Not doing this, might be construed by the person with dementia as them not being important because of the stigma that is attached to dementia.
6. Distraction in difficult situation can be the care partners greatest tool.
Gently distracted, the person with dementia may become calm.
7. Arguing with someone with dementia will create a very difficult situation
that could lead to the person with dementia becoming very agitated and
hostile. They might even be given a medication and that did not have to
happen. No one, will ever win an argument with a person with dementia.
What the person is saying, is very real to them. It might not be the
truth, but to them it is. My wife once asked me, "what happens, if both of
the people have dementia?" My response to her was, "they have enough
sense not to argue.
I hope these suggestions are helpful. If they are followed, I would greatly appreciate feedback. If there are other suggestions, please share those. I am attempting to develop thoughts and plans that will be beneficial to my family and others. Working together, we can have a huge impact on the care of someone with this horrific disease.
©2015 Robert Bowles
Robert Bowles, Jr.