Important Dementia Caregiving Techniques for Families

Posted by ComForCare on January 8, 2015 at 12:30 PM

Dementia causes challenges and changes for the whole family of the individual that receives the diagnosis.

Dementia can change a person’s cognitive functions, making it difficult to remember things and think clearly.

Dementia may also cause individuals to exhibit behaviors that are far removed from their normal personality.

Having plans in place may help family members and caregivers to provide better care and mitigate troubling behaviors.

Techniques for Improved Communication

Communicating with an individual that has dementia is essential for providing quality care. Communications should be kept positive and upbeat, with tone of voice and body language to support the positivity. Sentences should be spoken clearly and should be as concise as possible to reduce confusion.

Phrasing Questions

Questions should be phrased so that simple one word answers can be given. If the individual is struggling with a word or is having trouble communicating, reassurance should be provided. Depending on the person’s personality, it may help to suggest words or concepts.

Coping with Troubling Behaviors

It is not possible to prevent all incidents of troubling behaviors, but it can help family members to understand how to cope with these behaviors and how to reduce the occurrence of incidents. Attempting to control the behaviors will typically be unsuccessful and may cause outbursts and aggression. Instead, family members should provide as much comfort as possible and seek to understand the underlying motivations for the behavior. If abnormal behaviors have recently begun, family members should check with doctors to see if there may be medication imbalances or other explanations before accepting the behaviors as a normal part of dementia progression.

Understanding Purpose of Behaviors

While dementia behaviors may at first seem to have no rhyme or reason, there is often a motive behind the behaviors. If a patient is consistently performing rigorous physical labors, the person may require more exercise or an outlet for energies. If a person is wandering or trying to call someone, they may be seeking a personal connection or wish to speak to a certain person. By looking to understand the reasons behind the behaviors, family members may help to provide alternatives that will stop the behaviors.

Changing Diet and Improving Mealtimes

Nutritional needs may be difficult to meet for those with dementia. Medications and physical changes may cause flavors and textures to become unappealing. Those with dementia may also feel embarrassed about receiving help with eating. Family members should be as understanding as possible through this time, trying different foods that will allow independent eating.

Very sugary foods, caffeine, and other foods that may increase irritability should be avoided. Finger foods and foods that can be cut up and eaten easily should be given as much as possible. Being able to eat without aid can help seniors with dementia to feel more at ease. These techniques may make mealtimes much easier and more enjoyable.

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Topics: Alzheimer's and Dementia

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