Dementia Caregiver Tips

There are some easy tips to help ease the frustration on part of both the caregiver as well as the senior who suffers from Dementia. Understanding how dementia (there are about 90 forms of it by the way) affects the brain is key to understanding how it affects the person. This will help you find ways to communicate that help empower the person you’re caring for and ease frustration.

The disease gradually pervades most areas of the brain. However, the evolving pattern of damage can vary greatly between different individuals. As a result, each person with the disease may have a complex set of difficulties and experiences that are unique to them.

One common result of dementia is the loss of memory, specifically in the language center in the left side of the brain. It is very common for the person suffering from dementia to have difficulty “finding the right word”. This is because nouns are commonly one of the first pieces of information lost. The names of items, people and places.

This information is helpful to the caregiver, because if the person being cared for needs something, but cannot verbalize the need, there are some simple suggestions for getting the information that won’t frustrate the situation further. For example, Mary, the person with dementia tells Carol, the caregiver, that she needs to find the thing that opens the portal. Carol should ask, “Can you describe the shape and what it does?” Rather than asking, “What are you looking for?”  which requires Mary to find another noun to replace the ones she’s already given. Knowing that nouns are hard to articulate allows Carol to ask for more information in a way that allows Mary to help her decipher the message.

It’s also important to remember that as Mary’s disease progresses, her frustration increases, as well as her awareness of her loss. She may tell stories over and over, repeat herself, ask questions several times after they’ve been answered. The key is to go with the flow. Let her tell her stories as often as she’d like. If she asks if she’s told you a story that you’ve already heard, just ask to hear more about it. She can’t remember she told you, and needs to interact.

As the caregiver, your job is to keep Mary happy. You can’t teach her how to find the words she’s lost, or help her remember what she’s already told you, so just roll with it and be agreeable and empower her.

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