Not everyone can be a care provider for a person with dementia. It takes a special kind of person with patience, perseverance, and deep kindness of heart. Our care providers are among people who fit this bill, and often say they were born for this job.
Our caregivers at Homewatch CareGivers of Charlotte provide a needed service with the greatest possible care and attention, so during Dementia Care Professionals month, we wanted to share a few tips for family caregivers on caring for a loved one who is living with dementia.
Never correct a person with dementia
In the past, it was common to try and keep a person living with dementia firmly rooted in reality. Calendars, reminders, and corrections about the time or day were everyday occurrences. Unless it is for the personal safety of the person however, all a correction does is cause them to be upset.
If someone with dementia believes a loved one is still alive, can’t remember what day it is, or thinks they are in a completely different town—that’s okay. The only time a correction should be issued is if their confusion will put them in a dangerous situation.
Use Affirmation Therapy
Related to the first point, you can help make someone with dementia feel more comfortable by affirming their reality. If they ask when their husband is coming home—and he’s been dead for years—affirmation therapy might be asking what he does for work or other details about him. By asking questions, you’re affirming to them that their reality is real, which can help ease communication in other respects.
As cognitive abilities decline, it’s often how you say things that are conveyed to someone living with dementia, rather than what is actually said. An upbeat attitude will go a lot farther than all the words in the world. A positive attitude doesn’t just mean avoiding yelling or keeping your tone soft. Body language and facial expressions should all be kept positive when speaking with them.
Keep it simple
Open ended questions are often too difficult for those with dementia to answer easily. Instead of asking what a person wants to wear that day, it’s easier to ask if they’d like to wear a specific outfit. Questions that can be answered as “Yes” or “No” are the easiest to answer, and will make communication much smoother.
In our experience, our caregivers have learned that the more often you can use yes or no questions to communicate, the easier it will be to work with the person struggling to communicate.
Someone living with dementia can often find life confusing and difficult to navigate. Caregivers can be a ray of sunlight in this world, offering much needed care as well as easing communication. It’s a difficult job, but our caregivers are spectacular at their job and love what they do.
This Dementia Care Professionals Month, we’d like to take a moment to recognize the warmhearted and caring people who work for us, and who do their best every day to make their clients comfortable. Our caregivers are not only caring and kind, but trained to care for those who are living with dementia.