Dementia results in changes in behaviour amongst the elderly. The disability for people with dementia is memory loss. There are various stages of dementia that need to be watched for – early stages, mid stages, and late stages. Each stage shows a potential decline in many cognitive activities. Anger, confusion, and sadness are the first few symptoms of emotional changes that you can visibly notice in patients who are afflicted by dementia.
Behaviours of dementia patients are extreme. Ranging from disorientation to confusion, uncontrollable rage to moments of complete sadness; these emotional roller coasters, are common to all dementia patients. The unpredictable nature of their emotions makes it difficult for caregivers to handle them daily. Communication is also a struggle as it can be frustrating to get them to listen. Although it is hard to understand, the behaviour is fully attributed to the disease and one needs to understand that it changes the brain pattern.
Asking them to do daily activities might become a task and lead to aggressive behaviour. Even simple requests like, “Take a shower” might be met with aggression. Being in a strange environment can agitate them. Emotions can be overwhelming for patients with dementia and understanding this is one of the most important factors in taking care of them.
The essential goal while taking care of a dementia patient is to create a calm environment for them. Their moods might vary from happy to sad in a single day and being aware that there is such a possibility is extremely important.
The approach in applying the basic – Dos and Don’ts will ensure that elders who are experiencing dementia lead a more comfortable life. Here is a simple list of dos and don’ts while you are caring for Dementia patients
- Use short and simple sentences to communicate
- Keep a neutral voice and a calm expression when you talk
- Give the patient time to think about their response
- Be calm while you talk to them
- Talk at eye level
- Reassure them with a light hand
- Offer them food and drinks
- Be repetitive but in a calm manner without losing patience
- Don’t ask a lot of questions
- Don’t offer too many choices
- Don’t rush them
- Don’t mock them
- Don’t invade their space
- Don’t correct or argue
- Don’t raise your voice
Promoting a positive environment is a primary necessity for dementia patients. Understanding and learning strategies that are effective when dealing with dementia behaviour is vital to help loved ones and ensure their well-being.