You Cannot Control Memory Loss. But … You can control the way you react to it. Genuine compassion will heighten the quality of life for all of you.
People with Dementia are Not Crazy. They say and do things that are perfectly normal for memory impaired individuals. Lower your expectations and let yourself be lighthearted. When you change your thinking, troubles can disappear. With no disrespect intended, remember that dementia patients have the thinking abilities of small children. When thought of in this way, it is easy to love them.
Memory Loss is Their Disability. Asking them to remember is like asking a baby to drive. They can‟t. Questions like: “Did you take you pills?” and “What did you do today?” especially in later stages, is meaningless. Their reasoning ability is impaired. So if you say: “Day care will be fun.” or “You can‟t live alone.”, it may not be accepted. You won‟t have to convince anyone. Just speak in short, direct sentences: “It‟s shower time”. Search for creative solutions. Mental decline can easily lead to unpredictable emotions, thoughts, and behaviors. Try to resolve conflict peacefully, through distractions, praise, and incentives. Remember: Don’t argue, contradict, confront, blame, correct, or insist. You can make decisions; use a great deal of touch and back rubbing; and give easy explanations.
Remain Unemotional. For example, if they ask about where they are or a planned event, you don‟t have to say, “I told you three times already”. Just tell them where they are or when you are going every time they ask. Simple.
Be Choosy With What to Tell Them. If a person thinks that a deceased spouse is still alive, the direct truth can create sadness. Try To: distract attention to another subject; begin a new activity; share your own memories; and reflect their feelings back to them. Say things like: “It seems like you‟re thinking a lot about (the spouse) today”. “You‟re saying that you like this (a trait) about her/him.” “I can remember how much fun we all used to have when we (share a memory).” “Why don‟t we go for a walk?”
Give Uncomplicated Choices. Open-ended questions like: (“Where do you want to go?” and “What do you want to eat?”) are complex. Give easy choices between two items or pick, yourself. “You look great in that flowered dress of yours.”
Please Remember that People with Dementia are Scared All the Time. Suddenly, life seems very strange for them. That is because It is! People react to anxiety and fear, differently. Some show anger and can become uncooperative and abusive. Some might become passive and weepy. Still others may react in combination. Your job is to reduce anxiety whenever possible and to offer constant reassurances. This will help you, too!