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Compassion and Understanding in Dementia Care

Watching a loved one cope with illness is difficult. When that illness involves memory loss, it can be even tougher on friends and family.

Approximately 47 million people worldwide are afflicted with dementia, according to recent World Health Organization (WHO) estimates.  That number is expected to nearly triple by the year 2050. At Santé, our dedicated home health care specialists understand the difficulties of living with dementia, and the impact of memory loss on family interactions.

Santé’s trained caregivers are versed not only in the causes of dementia and memory loss, but in effective ways to cope with the behaviors associated with this disorder. Family members afflicted with dementia may experience frustration and confusion as an anxiety response to change.

To minimize this, our compassionate and understanding home health aides work to:

  • Listen and respond

The first step to caring for a person with dementia is listening to what he or she has to say. When they become agitated, ask questions and respond accordingly. Speak in soothing tones, asking “How can I help you?” or “What do you need?” and reassuring him/her that you are there to hear their concerns. Let them know they are safe and cared for; that everything is under control. Never ignore or criticize a person with dementia.

  • Create a soothing environment

Having a welcoming and familiar space, whether in their home or a post-acute care facility, can help a person with dementia feel calm even during stressful times. Find music your loved one enjoys. A comfort object, such as a favorite knick-knack or early family photo, can sometimes tamper agitation in those with dementia.  

  • Set small goals

Help your loved one by breaking tasks down into smaller, easier goals. Author and organizational creativity expert SARK would call these steps, “micro-movements.” Dementia patients sometimes struggle with everyday tasks such as combing their hair or changing channels on the television. By breaking down each task into a step-by-step list, you can reduce frustration and help your loved one feel more independent.

  • Consider a distraction

When the above steps don’t work to calm your loved one, sometimes a welcome distraction is needed. If, for example, they get agitated after losing their keys, take the focus off the lost item and do something they enjoy. Find an activity to experience together, such as taking a walk or listening to music. If they enjoyed cleaning or organizing, try tasks that involve putting things in order.   

Dementia is a category of disorders which affect a person’s everyday functioning, including memory, judgement, motor skills and language. As more is learned about dementia and its causes, the focus has shifted from “protecting” those with memory loss to understanding how we can relate to them and improve daily interactions.  

If you need help caring for a friend or relative with dementia, contact Santé today to learn more about our home health care options.

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