Guidelines for dealing with people who have dementia
Look at the person and not the illness, and treat the person as you would have done before the dementia.
Remember that many get frustrated because, unlike many people they simply cannot come straight out with the answer, and if things go wrong we sometimes come out with the wrong words, and that leads to accusations of aggressive behaviour or us being rude. I have heard this on many occasions, which makes me believe that the accusers really don’t have a clue about this illness.
Please don’t assume that you know all of the answers about dementia and what it is like to live with it, but ask us. We are living with it and therefore we can tell you about our problems.
Remember that people with strong accents, asking questions can be very difficult to understand, when you have this illness. As someone who grew up in the North East, I now struggle with the accents these days and if it is difficult for me, what is it like for others.
Many have hearing problems which may be acute as in Lewy Body Dementia and other may be losing their hearing, so they may not be able to understand clearly what you are saying, so please accept this, as this causes us stress at times, and that could lead to us being accused of being rude or aggressive.
Try to speak in a calm clear voice and not get agitated, otherwise it makes those with the illness react in the same way.
Do not discuss our problems with someone else while we are there, as that is hurtful and disrespectful, we have ears and a tongue and can answer for ourselves given the chance and the time.
Many of us have developed routines that we go through each day, and we should be allowed to carry on with these, as it allows us to be in control for that little bit longer. It also decreases the decisions that we need to make on a regular basis.
Some people are struggling to come to terms with this illness, some even deny they have it after the diagnosis, and it is up to you all to give us the support and care we need.
Some people struggle with certain types of flooring as with marble or vinyl floors, and may see things which are not there, and this causes distress. Marble floors are one of the worst things on a bad day when you have dementia, as it looks as if the designs are moving, and this has given me many nightmares in the past.
Revolving doors and elevators are a disaster as guess the time to get into or onto them is out of this world. My wife always goes down the elevator in front of me, and we don’t use revolving doors unless there is no other way in or out of the building.
Large mirrors especially full size ones, can cause problems in rooms such as hotel bathrooms and bedrooms; it’s not the first time that I have walked into a mirror thinking it was a door, because I could see a door reflected in it.
Remember our carers and family are our support at all times, and if we go into hospital they should be there all or most of the time to help us answer questions, and support us if we need to fill in consent forms, otherwise we could be signing our lives away.