Keep Calm and Communicate with Dementia
Imagine yourself feeling “conscious” and suddenly realizing that you do not know where you are and how you got there. Anyone might feel confused and agitated, something common in people living with dementia and as caregivers it is important to know how to communicate with dementia for the patient’s comfort and sense of ease. These conversation and relaxation techniques are necessary to maintain a calm behavior on the patient and avoid confrontations.
It is hard to deal with an agitated person who could be pacing back and forth feeling upset but they do not know exactly why. Certain causes could be having visitors in the house, traveling, moving to a new residence or care home, thinks not making sense in the world, changes in daily routine, etc. Many could be the triggers for anxiety and agitation in people living with dementia, however all can be prevented with the correct attitude towards the situation and the right way to communicate with dementia.
Just like that image the British government used back in 1939 “Keep calm and Carry on” as they prepared for World War II and that is now used for many different connotations and joke purposes, you as a caregiver must first keep calm yourself, empathize and do not take things personal, most of the time it is the disease speaking.
Some tips on how to prevent and respond to these type of situations are provided by the experts of the Alzheimer’s Association:
- Provide a calm atmosphere and remove any possible stressors. Part of this involves moving the person to a quiet and safe place avoiding any triggers coming from the outside like glare, noises or background distractions.
- Simplify daily routines and tasks.
- Keep an eye on their constant behavior. This will let you recognize any changes in the way they handle themselves towards any given situation. Also it is good to monitor their personal comfort and medical condition as this could be a large trigger for getting upset and agitated.
- Offer exercise opportunities. Getting the person to move and do something they enjoy will ease their mind off things that could disturb him or her.
Respond to it:
- Listen. A powerful tool for any person in a situation like this. It is the easiest way to understand the cause of their agitation.
- Try to calm down the person with dementia. Provide reassuring phrases that will provide some comfort. Let them know you are listening and understand how they feel. Think carefully on what you will say.
- Provide a calm environment. Move to another room that is quieter and private, where they will feel safe focused.
- Offer energy outlets. They might just need to go for a walk, listen to calm music, sit outside, etc.
- Check with the patient’s doctor. This type of behavior could be linked to certain medication side effects.
- Keep calm and communicate with dementia. To “talk” to dementia, especially in a situation like this, you do not need to raise your voice, engage on a verbal or physical fight with the person or show any feelings of resentment or alarm. You need to take control of the crisis for the good of the patient and yours.