Do you have a loved one who has been diagnosed with dementia? Or do you wish to know how to support someone living with dementia? Caring for people with this condition can be very challenging. But if you have experienced a close relationship with someone living with dementia, you will know that anything you can do to ease their daily frustrations will vastly improve their quality of life. Here are a few ways that you can have a positive impact on the life of a person with dementia, on a day to day basis.
Focusing on what is still present, rather than what has been lost.
When you are emotionally involved with a person who is living with dementia, it can become a habit to focus on what they cannot remember. When a person loses key memories that you both share, this can be very upsetting. But it’s important to place emphasis on what the person can still remember, what they can still do, and how they feel in the now. It is only by doing this that you can assist them to live as well as possible with dementia.
Communicating with a person who has dementia.
A person who has dementia can find communication strenuous and frustrating. Sometimes they will be unable to think of the word they need to express a thought or feeling, and this can make them lose confidence and shy away from social situations. They may also find following a conversation hard, especially if there are many voices involved. But it’s important to encourage those with dementia to take part in social interaction so that they do not feel lonely or alienated. Here are a few things that you can do to support and motivate a person with dementia to continue communicating with other people.
- Always try to maintain eye contact and block out surrounding distractions so that you both can focus
when communicating one on one.
- Be patient and allow the person with dementia to finish their sentence. Do not butt in to suggest what
the person is trying to convey. Wait until there is a pause to assist the person in choosing the right
words to get across their meaning.
- Be aware of body language – facial expressions and hand gestures may be more revealing than a person’s
choice of words.
- When meeting with other friends and family, keep social gatherings small. A person with dementia will
find it easier to contribute to a conversation when they can keep track of it, and there aren’t people
talking over the top of one another.
Assisting a person who has dementia in maintaining their independence.
Another important aspect of caring for, or supporting someone living with dementia is to respect their independence, even if they are increasingly becoming more reliant on you. It can be all too easy to fall into the habit of ‘taking over’ when caring for someone with dementia. For example, finishing their sentences for them may make communication quicker and easier, but this can also override their independence and limit their self-esteem. It’s important to encourage independence wherever possible, without jeopardising safety. Loss of independence can be very distressing for many seniors and can often lead to depression and anger. Supporting people with dementia in doing things for themselves such as getting breakfast, sweeping the pavement or hanging the washing out will provide them with a sense that they are still maintaining some independence, even though many tasks may be becoming increasingly difficult.
Learning more about supporting people living with dementia.
If you are considering a career in aged care, supporting people with dementia may become part of your everyday duties. Perhaps someone close to you has or is experiencing dementia, and it has urged you to want to assist others living with this condition. Or you could be looking for a job where helping others is the main focus. Whichever the reason, undertaking an accredited training course in a certificate in aged care will provide you with much more information on how to support people living with dementia.