Anyone providing care for an adult with Alzheimer’s or dementia knows just how challenging it can be to defuse certain situations. Memory loss illnesses are tricky, and triggers can vary greatly from person to person, so understanding how to approach a loved one in the midst of an episode can take a great deal of skill, patience, and compassion.
To truly help those living with a memory loss illness, 24-hour care and support from memory care professionals is often the best choice. But if you are not yet ready to explore specialized memory care communities, this is a great place to start. These basic tips may help you calm a loved one with dementia.
Understanding Your Loved One’s Experience
Those living with Alzheimer's or dementia do not always experience the world the same way you do. The best way to learn how to calm a loved one with dementia is to understand what is happening in their body and mind. Your loved one might be plagued by nuisances such as limited or distorted vision, decreased finger dexterity, mobility issues, and hearing incessant chatter or static which makes it hard to focus or remember even basic routines. Alzheimer’s experts are giving people the chance to walk in the shoes of someone living with a memory loss illness to experience some of these frustrating symptoms.
Everyone has triggers which can impact their mood in an instant. For those living with Alzheimer’s or dementia, these triggers can be ever present and incredibly intense, which is why identifying them is such a critical step in learning how to soothe your loved one in the midst of an episode. Common triggers for those with dementia include:
- Sundown Syndrome – increased irritability, anxiety, and disorientation in the later part of the day. This may be brought on by lower light, increased shadows, and growing more tired as the day progresses.
- Light & Mirrors – a well-lit home can be a great comfort, as can covering windows. Mirrors can be very triggering, and windows tend to behave like mirrors when night falls.
- Medications – stopping and starting medications can trigger new behaviors in those with Alzheimer’s or dementia. Consult your loved one’s physician if this is a concern.
- Exhaustion – lack of rest can cause behavioral changes. Keeping a regular sleep schedule can be a great help.
- Environment – cluttered, unfamiliar, and difficult to maneuver spaces can be especially triggering. Keeping familiar personal belongings near your loved one can help ease this.
- Confusion – simple tasks, like retrieving a specific item or performing a basic routine, can become incredibly difficult. To avoid confusion, try to tackle only one very small task at a time and give ample time to rest in between.
How to React
Here are some of the most important things to remember when attempting to soothe someone struggling with Alzheimer’s or dementia. Some of these may seem obvious, so let them serve as a reminder.
- Be patient. Always take a moment to calm and collect yourself when interacting with your loved one.
- Stay calm. Speak slowly, clearly, and at an appropriate volume – no softer or louder than you normally would for them to hear you.
- Reassure your loved one they are safe, and you are there to help them.
- Instead of trying to understand what they are saying, focus on how they are acting. For example, try saying something like “you seem worried” instead of asking them to repeat themselves.
- Don’t try to argue or reason with them or explain away their anxiety.
- Redirect them if they are involved in a triggering task.
- Try bringing up fond memories or playing familiar music or a favorite television show.
Get Professional Help
Artis Memory Care communities are designed to provide the specialized treatment and surroundings needed to help sooth and support your loved one. Memory care professionals who understand the unique challenges of life with memory loss are onsite 24 hours a day to provide care, encouragement, and companionship when residents need it most – which is often during all waking hours. This is why having a dedicated care team is often the difference between constant struggle and a rich, fulfilling life.
To learn more about the benefits of specialized memory care, contact Artis Senior Living today.