The Do's and Don'ts of Dementia

Posted by McKenna Burr on Mar 30, 2016

In Alzheimer's & Dementia, Main





When you are working with someone who has dementia, it can become difficult to know how to handle certain situations or comments. Below is a list created by Melanie Chavin talking about the best ways to treat your loved ones with dementia. 

 The Do's:

Treat the person as an adult. Although the person with dementia is confused, he or she is an adult and deserves to be treated like one. Treat them how you would want to be treated.

Be sensitive to the environment. Is it calm? Quiet? Is the temperature to their liking? An uncomfortable environment may be the cause of an agitated state or overreactions. Make sure to check and make sure that they are comfortable with their surroundings so they can enjoy themselves. 

Speak to the person as if he or she understands. Give the individual the benefit of the doubt. He or she may surprise you. 

Be flexible. Creativity helps when working with a person with dementia. Be willing to change plans around depending on the persons mood. 

Help the person to remain as independent as possible. It may be quicker to do things for them but it is better if that person id doing things for themselves. Allow them to continue practicing their daily activities themselves if they are able to. 

Establish a familiar routine. Activities within the routine should be varied as appropriate. 

Be Patient. Give the person extra time to respond to questions or requests. Do not stress the person out by giving them multiple questions or request at the same time. Putting pressure and rushing the person can end in frustration so just rememeber to be patient with them. 

Provide Encouragement. Imagine not knowing who or where you are. You would need encouragement too! Everyone needs someone to rely on and be able to feel safe with. Be that person for your loved one. 

Respond to the person's feelings. Don't just listen to the words being expressed, but really listen to their feelings. They trust you enough to open up to you so make sure you really take advantage of that time and really listen to them. 

Learn as much about the person's past as you can. This will help you a lot with planning programs and calming a person down who is upset. Each person has their own ways to cope with their feelings or be calmed down. Some prefer listening to music, coloring, laying down or just talking things out. 


The Don'ts:

Don't speak to the person as if he or she were a child. This can cause angry reactions and it indicates a lack of respect. Just be understanding to the person and don't treat them like a child. 

Don't scold the person. He or she is not intentionally making a mistake. Instead, quietly and gently point out the behavior and suggests different ways that they can handle the situation. 

Don't be afraid to touch the person or give a hug once in a while. Express some affection. The person with dementia likely does not get enough of it. Its important to show them that you love them and something as simple as holding their hand can mean the world to them. 

Don't speak to the person in negatives. It is important to avoid negative phrases with a person. Something like, "Come with me" instead of "Don't go there" can help the person understand what you are saying without feeling like you are getting angry with them. 

Don't talk "around" a person with dementia, as if he or she is not there. They are still a person and will understand more than you think. Give them the respect that they deserve by including the person in conversations. 

Don't startle the person. Approach the person from the front and be sure that they see you before you talk to them. This will help them not be frightened or scared when you start talking to them. 

Don't assume that every person with dementia is the same. There are so many different kinds of dementia that can affect each person differently so it may be different than others. Every person and type of dementia can progress differently so you need to be aware and senititve toward that. If you are interested about the different types, view this article. 

Don't give up!! You can do this! Just remember the love that you have for them and it will be easy. If you are ever feeling alone, there are local support groups available to learn how to handle someone with dementia or alzheimers. At Bel Aire, we offer one the second Tuesday of every month from 4-5pm.