Understanding Dementia: Quick Tips to handling changes with Empathy

Understanding Dementia: Quick Tips to handling changes with Empathy

August 15, 2023 | Health

Understanding Dementia: Quick Tips to handling changes with Empathy

Watching a loved one experience changes for the first time after diagnosis can be stressful. These complex conditions that impact individuals, their families, and friends can be hard to grasp. Explaining the changes requires compassion, sensitivity, and effective communication. 

Dementia is an umbrella term for various cognitive disorders affecting memory, thinking, behavior, and mobility. Alzheimer’s accounts for most cases and is characterized by the progressive decline of brain cells, leading to more significant memory loss, confusion, and personality and behavioral shifts.

 Learning about the transitions that come with Dementia creates deeper insight into how to handle the effects. It helps to meet potential challenges associated with cognitive and behavioral changes compassionately and sympathetically. 

Limit distractions to find peace.

Finding places with minimal distractions is important so your loved one doesn’t feel overwhelmed. Loud noises, bright lights, or excessive clutter can cause confusion and agitation. Creating a peaceful sanctuary helps individuals focus and feel more at ease.

Calmly suggesting your loved one step away from a situation does away with the obstacles that upset them. Encourage them to take breaks as necessary until they feel calm, cool, and collected.

Build bridges of trust.

Trust between people living with Dementia is important as it provides security and dignity. Trust facilitates meaningful relationships that allow those affected to feel supported.

For caregivers and healthcare providers, it helps to deliver effective assistance and better-quality care. When trust is built together, it creates respect and maintains a sense of individuality – allowing them to hold their identity beyond diagnosis.

Being gentle and reassuring are easy ways to start to bridge trust. Speaking softly, holding eye contact, and approaching each conversation patiently and understanding go a long way. Non-verbal cues, such as a smile, contribute to a trusting relationship.

Build stability through consistency.

Our loved ones with Dementia thrive off consistency. Facing the unknown is another contributor to feeling overwhelmed. Adding familiarity to their living space can guide them as they navigate daily life.

Put furniture and personal belongings in the same places that are easily accessible.
Add elements that encourage relaxation, such as soft blankets or soothing music, and keep the temperature at an appropriate range.

Setting daily routines prevents confusion and emotions from being heightened. When there are daily patterns to follow, loved ones feel more prepared with predictability. A tool like this also alleviates confusion.

Foster familiarity.

Decorating their space with objects that hold sentimental value or may remind them of happy memories can spark remembrance and better cognitive function. Encourage familiar faces by surrounding them with trustworthy individuals such as family or close friends. Visitors are always welcome.

Always reassure your loved one as they participate in activities or converse with others. Try sticking to a certain number of visitors each time. Be aware of the cues that show signs of confusion or anxiety that can start.

Safety first.

Be mindful of physical safety measures within their environment. Mobility skills are often affected by Dementia, so keeping a clear space with necessary safety equipment is a priority. Remove potential hazards like loose rugs, slippery floors, and hazardous objects as they arise.

Prioritizing the safety of your loved one reduces falls, among other risks, while establishing security and peace of mind. Not only will your loved one feel more comfortable navigating their living space, but it will also ease the burden of worrying for others.

Respond with flexibility.

Understand that those with Dementia can often experience mood swings, frustration, or resistance. Though feeling overwhelmed is normal, think about how to respond best to meet their needs.

Not everything is always going to go as planned. As important as establishing a routine and going through similar motions each day, treat the unknown with flexibility.

Also, be mindful that they are not at fault for what they’re experiencing. Changes in behavior and comfortability are a response to feeling like they can’t contribute or aren’t valued by others. Instilling a sense of self and independence ensures their diagnosis does not define them.

As Dementia affects those around you, it’s essential to approach these changes with understanding, effective communication, safety, and patience so that they feel supported. Remember that you and your loved one are never alone as you learn and adjust.

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