15 August 2013
7 Helpful Tips for Supporting a Person Living with Dementia
A useful list of 7 important things to remember when dealing with someone who is suffering from dementia.
Dementia is a progressive, degenerative neurological disease which affects a person’s ability to think, reason and communicate. As a result of the progressive destruction of nerve cells within the brain the receiving, interpreting and communication of information takes longer. It is essential to keep this in mind when supporting a person with dementia. Here are some helpful tips:
1. Don’t argue.
Refrain from arguing with the person and accept that whatever they are saying they truly believe is their truth. Arguing will only cause both of you to get upset. As the dementia progresses so the person’s reality will alter and you will need to be prepared not to try to pull the person back into your reality but join them in theirs for both your wellbeing.
2. Establish A Routine.
Maintaining a structure to the day for someone living with dementia will help maintain a sense of being in control and independent and reduces stress levels. Remember as the disease progresses the activities will take longer and will need constant prompts. Setting the scene and using visual cues often help.
3. Recognise the person is living on their “wits”.
Feelings are more important than anything to keep the person calm and reassured. The more anxious you are the more anxious the person living with dementia will become.
4. Minimise known risks.
We all take risks every-day and have done for the majority of our lives, it’s part of what makes us human. So being told you can’t do something or being prevented from being independent may have exactly the opposite effect you were hoping for. Of course we want to keep the person safe, but we need to find ways of positively enabling the person living with dementia, finding strategies to minimise risk will generally ensure the person remains less frustrated.
We all know that exercise is good for us, and this is also true for those living with dementia. Regular gentle exercise has beneficial effects for the person’s wellbeing. Activity improves appetite, normal body functions and sleep patterns.
6. Play Music.
There are many studies, and anecdotal evidence to show that music is beneficial for those living with dementia. People often respond well to music they know well or that holds a special meaning to them. As people progress into a more repetitive stage they often respond well to strong rhythm and beat. Music often has a calming effect and helps to reactivate memories and improve speech for some, though only for a short time after listening.
7. Give time and be patient.
The damage to nerve cells results in normal activities taking longer, the brain is having to work harder, this can be tiring. Recognise that after something physically or mentally stimulating the person may take longer to recover, a busy day may be followed by a very sleepy day.
Living a full life is still possible for those living with dementia. The key points to remember are; take time, don’t patronise, help the person to remain as independent and in control as possible and value them as the person you love and care about