If you are the caregiver to someone who is having anger issues while suffering from Dementia there are some very helpful hints in interacting with them. The first thing to remember is that you are the only one in this relationship who may have control over your thought processes and emotions so it is up to you to be the one who takes the initiatives to control the situation. It is going to fall to you, as the caregiver, to assess the situation and take all the proper actions to make that relationship go as smoothly as possible. In some cases you will be caregiving for a family member, but in others you may not even know the person until you have received this assignment. Depending on the advancement of the Dementia, the patient may not know you from one minute to the next so any expectation of building a relationship is unrealistic. That doesn’t mean there is no hope in the situation, but it means the caregiver will have to always be cognizant of the fact that the patient may never be comfortable around them. There are still some suggestions in how you can proceed when dealing with that Dementia patient. Note that this suggestion I am listing here came from another blog by Frena Gray-Davidson and was posted on Boomer to Boomer Online. This is a great source for those who are dealing with not just Dementia issues but many issues that we face as we struggle through these transitions period. I will include a link at the bottom so you can read that blog.
It occurred to me as I was reading through this list that these suggestions could be applied in many situations. Most of these are part of a de-escalation process that is applied in any confrontational situation, not just in dealing with someone with Dementia. So as you read through this please recognize this isn’t just training for caregiving, but good advice to be used in other areas of your life. One of the most important things to remember is that all of us have the need to feel safe. Most of us can analyze our situation and determine what we have to do to make ourselves feel safe. As a person who is experiencing Dementia, they may not be in control of their environment and they definitely do not have the capability to reason what is going on around them. They will be more prone to go in to a panic situation much earlier than most. We, as caregivers, can be aware of this and can control the environment to allow them the time to calm down. Remember the best approach is to not let them go in to panic in the first place. Here are some very good suggestions.
How to help a person with dementia feel safe:
1. Slow down and get down physically to their level, so you have eye to eye contact;
2. Keep communication simple;
3. If you need co-operation, take things one step at a time and wait for completion of each step;
4. Don’t be in a hurry because that slows down a person with dementia;
5. Don’t argue because you won’t win. A person with dementia can’t do rational step-by-step thinking, so they’ll lock into stubborn resistance as a defense;
6. Suggest, bribe, offer, persuade and re-direct instead of giving orders;
7. Be affectionate;
8. Use humor;
9. Don’t treat them like children;
10. Treat them with respect, ask them what they want, offer choice (limited choice, please!).
As you can see, most of these are common sense approaches that we all expect. The difference is we can think through a situation and the person with Dementia may not be able to. Please use these techniques as you perform the duties of a caregiver and remember that those you are taking care of did not ask for their illness and don’t want to respond as they do. They need our love and patience. They need us to take the time to make sure they feel safe because more than likely they do not know what those measures would be.
Thank you to Boomer to Boomer and all those who do a great work and for sharing with us their knowledge and expertise.