If you have a loved one who has been diagnosed with dementia or other memory related disease, you’ll know how hard it can be on everyone involved. Too many times, people associate dementia with reduced all-around awareness. However, older adults with dementia, particularly in its early stages, have feelings, too! If talked down to or brushed off, they can feel pain, embarrassment, and even anger.
Treat Dementia Patients with Respect
Older adults with dementia must be related to with respect and compassion. In a world where everyone is worried about saying something that offends someone else, surprisingly, the treatment of adults with dementia doesn’t always seem to get the same kind of consideration. At least not often enough. Here, we are going to explore some of the things that you simply should not say to an older adult with dementia. Consider it a matter of respect, and just plain humane treatment.
Avoid Saying the Following
If you avoid saying the following things to an older adult with dementia, you’ll stand less chance of offending them and a better chance of treating them with care and respect:
- “Their dementia is worsening.”
Saying this in front of someone is treating them as if they aren’t even there. They may or may not know they’re getting worse. But this is something you simply don’t need to announce in their presence.
- “Okay we’re going to go get some groceries from the store so let’s get on your shoes, put your coat on, and get in the car.”
Long sentences should be avoided. This leads to confusion. Start with the shoes. Move on to the coat. Then it’s time for the car, etc.
- “What would you like for dinner today?”
For someone with dementia and Alzheimer’s, a lot of trouble can be caused by open ended questions. Instead, you may want to make suggestions. Try this: “How about some stew for dinner tonight?”
- “I already told you…” followed by something you’ve already explained to them.
Not only might this confuse them further, but it can be harmful and hurtful. Simply repeat what you said and remember that patience will get you further than frustration.
- “Hey, do you remember that time when…?”
They probably don’t. It can lead to sadness and embarrassment if they realize their memories are slipping away.
- “No, that’s wrong!”
If they said something that’s wrong, there’s no need to upset them. Due to confusion, they’re in a vulnerable emotional state. Don’t make it worse. Trying to help them correct a dangerous or inappropriate action is one thing. But telling them that something they remember is wrong is simply unnecessary. Ask yourself: “Does it really matter?”
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