Living with dementia
Living with dementia is very hard at times, but it is even harder for family and friends to understand and in some cases cope with
Often the illness affects the memory first, and the person may become confused about where they are, what day it is and who people are.
Someone with dementia will often repeat actions or questions.
What can someone with dementia feel?
Imagine if you were to lose the ability to say the right word or understand what is being said, e.g., when on holiday in a foreign country where you don’t speak the language.
You may feel frustrated, angry and look for help, perhaps someone to interpret for you.
You might respond by not speaking at all and withdrawing into yourself or avoiding situations where you have to communicate with people.
In some cases this is what happens in dementia, the only difference is that it is your own language that you do not fully understand, and that is upsetting and stressful
A person with Dementia may also:-
Feel under pressure because they can not cope as well as they used to. As their brain is taking longer to process the information
Fell that their independence and privacy are being taken away
Think they are being judged for making a mistake
Be frightened by too much noise
Try to stick to routines and get frightened of changes to this routine
May already have a poor hearing which can be made worse by their dementia, as they do not understand what is being said to them
12 Hints to help you communicate with someone who has dementia:-
Face the person, speak clearly and slowly
Make sure that you have their attention by gently touching their arm and saying their name
Use short simple sentences and say exactly what you mean
Try to get one idea across at a time
Allow plenty of time for the person to take in what you say and to reply
Try not to confuse or embarrass the person by correcting them bluntly
Use questions which ask for a simple answer
Don't ask questions which test their memory, e.g., who am I? or what did you say yesterday.
Talk about familiar people, places and ideas
Use the surnames of the people you are talking about, instead of “he or she”. It will remind the person of who you are talking about.
Use facial expressions and hand gestures to make yourself understood.
Actions speak louder than words
Look at the person and not the illness, and treat them the way you would expect others to treat you, and that is with Dignity and Respect
A smile, touch or gesture can be just as important in getting the message across and showing that you care.
Sometimes holding the person’s hand when you talk can be very reassuring
Gradually the person can begin to lose the ability to do everyday tasks. Eventually they may not be able to do even tasks like eating, dressing and going to the toilet
Their personality may change but the person is still the same beneath the illness
People can live with dementia for many years – with changing needs
Looking after someone with dementia can be demanding stressful and exhausting
You can give support by offering practical help, e.g. with shopping or simply by taking the time for a friendly chat