Your Loved One With Dementia Tips for positive interaction


Those of us caring for a friend or family member with Alzheimer’s disease must keep many aspects of the affliction in mind.

When loved ones and caregivers accept the person’s altered state of reality, interactions will be much more positive.

It is important to understand that people with this disease will lose short-term memory, but retain some long-term memories. What remains in their minds are stories from long ago that seem very real and current to them, which requires those close to them to also live in that altered reality. For instance, if they are looking for their mother who died years ago, it does no good to try and convince them that their mother has passed away. When they ask, “Where’s my mother?” it’s best to offer an answer that will assure them that mom is okay, such as, “She’s at the grocery store” or “She is running errands.” Rest assured – you’re not lying to your loved one; you are living in their reality, as their memories of mom are very recent.

As a person’s dementia progresses, they may not recognize you. They haven’t forgotten you; they may just think you’re still a child. Rather than asking, “Remember me? Your son, John?” you could say, “I hear you have a great son named John. Tell me about him.”

When visiting your loved one, bring photos of them on their wedding day, from a favorite trip they took, or photos of yourself when you were little. Bring up their fond memories of the person in the picture (you), speaking in the third person. For example, ask, “Wasn’t John such a cute child?” instead of “Wasn’t I such a cute child?”

You can recall countless memories for your loved one. Talk about pastimes they enjoyed or favorite hobbies that they can no longer engage in, but will still love to talk about.

Last but not least, speak in a calm and gentle tone and try to avoid background noise or distracting environments. Speak slowly and enunciate clearly, using short, simple sentences. And as long as they are accepting, reassure them with a touch or a hug.

The bottom line is that reasoning with a person who has Alzheimer’s disease only creates stress for both parties. When loved ones and caregivers accept the person’s altered state of reality, interactions with them will be much more positive.



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