For the aging, it is natural for memory loss to occur. Most of us will experience it either through loved ones, possibly offering companion care to them while others of us may suffer dementia personally. Dementia, according to the Alzheimer’s Association, “is a general term for a decline in mental ability severe enough to interfere with daily life.” The most common type of dementia among the elderly and aging is Alzheimer’s, accounting for 60-80% of cases.
A reality of dementia is that communication can be an ordeal for everyone. According to a fact sheet by Family Caregivers Alliance the sufferer has a progressively harder time thinking and communicating clearly. Below you’ll find some practical tools when providing in home care:
- Positive Vibes: Set a positive mood with your body language, tone of voice and attitude. Use a gentle touch and warm facial expressions to show affection.
- Attention, Please: In order to keep your loved one focused, limit distractions by turning off electronics, address him by name and maintain eye contact.
- Communicate Clearly: Speak clearly using simple words. If he doesn’t understand, repeat the statement. Then wait a bit and rephrase.
- Simple Questions: If you need information from him, ask simple questions, one at a time. Asking questions that get a yes/no response are the best followed by giving two options. Whenever possible use visual cues to help.
- Listen for Meaning: Use all of your senses to understand your loved one: your ears to hear, your eyes to interpret body language and your heart for emotional cues. “Always strive to listen for the meaning and feelings that underlie the words,” says Family Caregivers Alliance.
- Focus on Feelings: Senior citizens with dementia often confuse time and reality. Do not try to convince them of the truth. Focus on their feelings and reassure them with comforting touch or words.
- Remember When: Many who suffer from Alzheimer’s can remember their distant past but not what they had for lunch several minutes ago. Reminiscing about childhood can be a comforting experience.
- Laughter is the Best Medicine: Humor is encouraged by Caregivers Alliance, “People with dementia tend to retain their social skills and are usually delighted to laugh along with you.”
Any day providing senior care at home for a dementia sufferer requires patience, resilience and humor but by taking along these tools, you may find that there are many days that you can walk through with strength and grace to help your loved one live fully and stay at home.