Being a caregiver for loved ones with dementia can be tricky and emotionally tiring. Dementia patients often say things that do not make sense, are uncomfortable or are inappropriate. However, it is important to respond reasonably and rationally while trying your best to empathize with them. It is key to always remain patient and speak kindly. Here, we will touch on some things you should avoid saying to someone suffering from dementia and some alternative things to say instead.
“You Are Wrong”
It is common for the elderly suffering from dementia to make false claims and become argumentative, However, it is crucial you understand that they are dealing with a sudden loss of cognitive functions meaning arguing with them is pointless and can only lead to frustration for both parties. Keep in mind that your loved one’s emotional state is vulnerable and delicate. As such, instead of disagreeing with them, you can change the subject to distract them. For example, if they say something wrong, avoid fighting over it, simply talk about something else and try to move away from that topic. Aim to shift their focus to a topic that is pleasant and soothing.
“Do You Remember?”
This is a common phrase that you may accidentally find yourself saying, either out of frustration or due to slips of the tongue. However, chances are your loved one is unlikely to remember seeing as forgetfulness is one of the primary symptoms of dementia. As such, try your best not to ask them if they recall certain people or what they did during the day. Doing so can lead to sadness or embarrassment on their part. Instead, take an alternative approach. Rather than saying “Do you remember eating at this restaurant in the past?”, you can say “I remember when we ate at that restaurant together”. This is a good way to allow them to reminisce on past experiences and memories without causing unwanted stress and unhappiness.
“They Passed Away”
Finally, an unfortunate occurrence with the elderly suffering from dementia is that they will often ask about loved ones that have passed on. They may be unhappy that the individual has stopped visiting or calling and begin asking where they are. While telling them the person has passed may help, those in the later stages of dementia may not believe you. They may even get agitated and extremely hurt. Furthermore, they are likely to forget again, meaning you will have to break the bad news to them repeatedly. Sadly, there is no easy way to handle this sensitive situation. You should assess the situation and decide if being truthful is better, or whether changing the topic is more appropriate. Ultimately, aim to avoid distressing them. Every topic and conversation is different and it is up to your discretion to decide how to best respond.
Caring for older adults with dementia is no easy feat. If you find yourself struggling greatly, you can consider seeking assistance from our memory care services here at Terrabella Roswell. Our team members are kind, loving, and are well-trained to deal with any behavior. Additionally, we have a wide variety of amenities that your loved one is sure to enjoy.