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Dos & Don’ts of Speaking to a Senior with Dementia

Communication can be challenging for a senior with dementia as well as the person providing in-home dementia care in Las Vegas. Dementia is a chronic brain disorder that makes it progressively harder for a senior to think clearly, remember things, and communicate. Improving your ability to communicate with your loved one can reduce the stress of caregiving and decrease agitation or irritability that can arise in seniors with mid to late stage dementia.

Don’t remind them someone has died.

It’s common for people with dementia to believe a loved one is still alive. They may be upset that this loved one hasn’t visited, they may mistake someone else for the deceased, or they may want to go see their loved one. If your loved one asks if someone has died, be honest. Otherwise, avoid telling them that the person they want to see has passed away. It will only upset them, and they’ll likely soon forget and start asking again.

Do use positive statements.

To avoid agitating your loved one, use positive statements. Instead of saying, “Don’t go outdoors,” say, “Stay inside with me.” Even your body language should remain positive. When a frustrated Las Vegas live-in caregiver gives off negative energy, the person with dementia might begin mirroring the emotion and respond with impatience or anger.

Don’t use baby talk or speak as you would to a child.

People with dementia respond better to patience and respect, not condescension. Taking on a parental role when speaking to a loved one with dementia can make him or her feel like they are being treated like a child, which can worsen behavioral problems. Using language your elderly relative used prior to dementia–such as toilet or restroom instead of potty–can also be less confusing.

Do limit options.

While it’s important to give a senior with dementia choices, avoid asking your loved one to make a complicated decision with too many options. This will lead to frustration and confusion.

Don’t correct them when they’re wrong.

Your loved one will often be confused as to the year, time of day, or what’s going on, and will likely get upset when corrected. Instead, use therapeutic fibbing. For example, if your loved one thinks he or she needs to pick up her children from school, but the children are grown, say they’re staying at their grandparent’s house today. Therapeutic fibbing will help ease your loved one’s anxiety in a more constructive manner and relieve the guilt often felt when lying to a loved one.

Are you looking for professional dementia care in Las Vegas? At Home Care Assistance of Las Vegas, our highly trained dementia caregivers can provide around-the-clock safety monitoring, run errands, ensure your loved one is eating a well-balanced diet, and complete basic housework. Call an experienced Care Manager at 702-550-3185 to schedule a complimentary in-home consultation.