It takes patience and empathy to interact with a person who suffers from dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Here are a few tips that may help to make it a little easier for both of you.
1. View Anger With Understanding
Try to understand that a sudden outburst of shouting is not just random. There will be a reason for the anger. Like a baby who cannot express itself in words, the person may be hungry, thirsty, cold or in pain. You may need to find out when they last ate or drank.
2. Watch Out For Dehydration
Lack of hydration can lead to added confusion. Try to encourage the person to drink little sips or more if possible to stay hydrated and prevent complications such as urinary tract infection. The brain needs lots of liquid.
3. Switch Things Up
Boredom can cause mood swings. If they have been indoors all day, they may like a short walk outside. They may need a little stimulation or a little less stimulation, depending on their circumstances. Short activities can also wear them out faster than you may realize.
4. Include Them In Tasks
Rather than doing everything for them, the dementia patient may enjoy being included in tasks they are able to help with. They may be able to fold laundry, put away silverware, or water the plants. Including them will build their confidence.
5. Lost Items
At times, the patient may forget what’s going on around them. So, if, for example, the patient misplaces an item, it may be wise to avoid reminding them that they have lost something. Instead, you could pretend that you are searching for something that you have lost. Then they could be included in the task of looking for the item without the stress involved.
6. Short And Sweet Partings
In order to avoid upsetting the person, make your good-byes short and sweet. Make sure to inform them when they will see you again. You may also want to mention the next activity they will be looking forward to after you’re gone. Don’t dwell on the fact that you’re leaving or give them time to think about it.
In the late afternoon or early evening, a sudden change of mood may occur in dementia patients. This is called “sundowning”, because it happens when the sun goes down. The person may be feeling restless or tired. This may be a good time to put on their favourite CD and have a little mild exercise.
8. Time Tasks To Suit
When it’s time to have a wash or get dressed, the dementia patient may resist or become angry. They may lack the energy or desire to engage in the activity. Consider the timing and, if possible, do it at another time. Or perhaps the task can be broken down into increments to allow them to rest in between.
9. Ask The Doctor
There is only so much you, as a caregiver, can do. If your loved one is having frequent mood swings, violent outbursts, or seems depressed, be sure to talk to your doctor. Medication, Nootropics like Noopept and Alpha GPC can also be helpful.