Here are the important DOs
- DO understand that there are various types of dementia and that dementia is an “umbrella” term used to cover many causes of brain failure such as: Alzheimer’s Disease, Vascular Dementia, Dementia with Lewy Bodies, and Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD), and others.
- DO learn about the various signs and symptoms of dementia (confusion, memory loss, anxiety, frustration, crying, etc. Visit Alz.org)
- DO learn about the various stages of Alzheimer’s Disease as 70% of all those with dementia are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease.
- Find resources in your area and online such as support groups and educational workshops. Reach out to a 24/7 Caregiver Hotline for help at any time: 1-800-272-3900
Learn how to be a supportive caregiver for a senior with dementia
- DO learn all you can about the senior with dementia (where they grew up, their siblings, their spouse, their family, their occupation, their hobbies, and habits, etc). Their long-term memories stay with them long-term and allow you to connect with them
- DO be patient and compassionate with all seniors and especially dementia clients. They are struggling and do not need any extra burdens or worries.
- DO give simple direction to the senior as to what you would like them to do. If you give them too many choices, they won’t be able to process your request.
- DO slow down, especially with your speech. Give them time to process what you’ve said (even as much as 90+ seconds for clients with severe dementia).
- DO be aware of your body language. A smile and a kind voice go a long way. (Seniors with dementia can read your body language and tone of voice.)
- DO keep in mind that that the disease in their brain causes the senior to act out and to forget what you’ve said and who you are. It is not who they really are.
- DO validate what the senior is saying even if it doesn’t make sense to you. (Example: The senior says he has to go to work right now. Instead of telling them that they don’t have a job, ask them about what kind of work they do.)
- DO find ways to re-direct the senior to other topics or activities after you’ve validated what they are concerned about. (Example: Let’s eat lunch first, then you’ll have a good meal in you when you go to work.)
Here are the important DONT’S
- DON’T talk about a senior in their presence as if they are not there. They understand a lot more than we sometimes give them credit for.
- DON’T argue with the senior. You’ll not win because they cannot reason well. Instead, be agreeable and find ways to better understand the client’s needs.
- DON’T tell the senior, “I just told you that.” Just kindly repeat and validate.
- DON’T grab a senior or try to force them to do something. It will work against you.
- DON’T ask questions which emphasize their memory loss. Be considerate.
DO call our office staff with any concerns. We are in this together.
Office: 801-224-5910 or visit aspenseniorcenter.org