Dementia is a growing problem. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, there are currently 5.7 million Americans with dementia, and this number will increase to 13.8 million by 2050. As dementia progresses, some of the behaviors that people with the disease exhibit may become difficult for caregivers or family members to handle. However, if you know how to treat people with dementia in everyday life—and not just when they’re at their worst—you’ll be able to help them thrive and stay happy as they age.
The most important thing to remember when you’re talking with someone who has dementia is that their brain is not working the way it should. So, if your friend tells you that she has been having trouble sleeping lately, don’t argue with her or try to convince her otherwise–just agree! If she says something like “I’m hungry,” just say “Yes! I am too!” This will help reinforce what they are saying and let them know that you understand and care about their feelings.
Divert their attention. If you can’t get them to stop doing what they’re doing, try diverting their attention to something else. Ask them about their favorite movie or food or color, or tell them about yours. Tell them a story from your own life that has nothing to do with dementia–maybe an embarrassing experience from childhood or college will help put things in perspective for both of you! Ask them questions about the present moment. Dementia patients often live in the past, but sometimes they’ll remember what’s happening now if you ask questions related directly to where and when you are right now (for example: “Do I look pretty today?”). This can be especially effective if it’s something simple like asking someone who is sitting next to you at church whether they think it looks like rain outside; even if they don’t know why they think so or why anyone would care whether it rains on Sunday morning services instead of Wednesday night Bible study class meetings…it still feels good knowing someone cares enough about what happens next door!
Distracting a person with dementia is not the same as ignoring them. The goal is to divert attention away from something that may be upsetting or confusing, and show you’re listening. You can do this by asking questions about something else that’s going on in their life–a favorite hobby, family member or friend who lives far away. You might also say something like “I bet it was fun when you were younger! Tell me more about it.” Or ask them about their favorite foods, movies or music from when they were young (but don’t make fun of their clothes). If you have any photos from long ago yourself (or even just printed off from Google Images), bring those along so they can look at them while talking about his/her past experiences with those people/places/things featured in those photos..
Reassure them that you are there for them. Reassure them that they are not alone. Reassure them that they are loved and important to you in some way, such as by telling them their name or other things about themselves (i.e., “You’re my mom and I love you.”). Remind them of where they live or work, if possible; this can be helpful when trying to get home from somewhere unfamiliar
Remind them of their past, and ask them about their childhood, or favourite memories. Ask them about their favourite place, and the people they love most in this world. Reminiscing is a great way to get someone with dementia to open up and remember some good times from the past.
Repeat what they say. Repeat what they have done. You can repeat yourself, if you need to. For example, if someone asks you a question and then repeats their own question back at you in response to your answer, rather than saying “yes” or “no”, simply repeat their last word or phrase again (in this case: “yes”). This will help them feel heard and understood by allowing them to hear themselves speak again in a way that makes sense for them now – even if it doesn’t make sense for us! Repeat what others have said to others around them (or even themselves). For example: If someone says, “I’m hungry,” instead of saying something like “you just ate lunch!” try repeating this statement back by saying something like “You’re hungry!” You could also say things like: “That sounds good.” Or maybe even just smile at them sympathetically while nodding your head slightly up and down as though agreeing with everything being said without actually having heard any of it yet yourself; as long as everyone else seems happy enough with this exchange then who cares whether or not anyone really understands anything anyway?
If you have a loved one with dementia, it’s important to remember that they can still do many things. They may not be able to remember how to do everything they once did, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t still capable of doing anything at all. For example, if your loved one is able to walk around the house without any help from others and feels comfortable doing so, then there’s no reason for them not become more independent in their daily activities. You can encourage this by giving them tasks such as vacuuming or dusting around the house (as long as these don’t require too much concentration). If your loved one struggles with mobility issues due to medical problems like arthritis or Parkinson’s disease, then consider helping out by making sure they’re taking their medications properly while also providing transportation when necessary (for example if someone needs dialysis every week).
Ask questions. Do so in an easy-to-answer format, such as a yes/no question or a multiple-choice question. Ask relevant questions (e.g., “What did you have for breakfast?”) that the person can easily answer without having to think hard about it first (and thus sparking confusion). Always ask for consent before asking a personal question if the person has dementia, even if it seems harmless or irrelevant at first glance!
Encourage is a powerful word. When you encourage someone, it gives them strength and courage to keep going. You can encourage someone in many ways; Encourage them to do something they are not sure they can do. For example, if they are having trouble walking down the stairs, encourage them by saying “Come on! You can do it!” Encourage someone who is feeling sad or depressed by telling them how much you care about them and how much their friendship means to you. If someone does something good for another person (like helping with chores), give praise! Tell them that what they did was great and how much better things will be now because of their help! This will make both parties feel happy which makes life easier for everyone involved!
Reinforce what they are doing. Reinforce their achievements. Reinforce their strengths, abilities and skills. Reinforce the things they can do, have done or will be able to do in the future.
As you can see, there are many ways to help someone with dementia. The most important thing is to be patient and understanding, because they may not always understand what’s going on around them. Keep this in mind when interacting with the person so that he or she feels comfortable and safe around those who care about them most!