Dementia Care: What to Do and What to Avoid

June 15, 2022 | Memory Support
Close up picture of elderly woman with dementia holding flower bouquet given by caretaker - hands

There is no “one-size-fits-all” approach to dementia care because dementia and memory loss can impact every person differently. And while dementia can lead to challenges and obstacles, caring for someone living with dementia can also be a uniquely rewarding experience.

At Astral at Franklin, we provide person-centered memory care that focuses on the needs and abilities of each resident. A person living with dementia enjoys a life of meaning and purpose, and our team members accomplish this through compassionate care, engagement and opportunities for growth.

Below, we are exploring successful practices when it comes to dementia care. By examining these, you can better understand what to do – and what to avoid – when providing essential memory care to a family member or loved one.

Dementia Care: What to Do

Dementia can present unexpected challenges, so it’s important to know how to respond in certain situations. Here are some ways to support a person living with dementia with kindness and love. 

DO Remain Flexible: Being able to adapt to new situations and behaviors is one of the most important skills you can develop when caring for a person with dementia. Dementia causes irreversible changes to the brain, and because every person is different, these changes can result in new and unexpected behaviors. Therefore, when these moments occur, you want to remain patient and flexible to promote a positive caregiving experience.

DO Lead with Joy: A person living with dementia still has the same needs and desires as any other person. They want to be treated with kindness. You can provide this experience for them by approaching every encounter with joy.

In practice, that means speaking softly, slowly and kindly to them. It means greeting them with a warm smile. And it means situating yourself on their level when you are having a conversation, so that it always feels like you are talking to them, not at them.

Sometimes, frustration and impatience can emerge in the daily experience of providing memory care. If you feel overwhelmed or frustrated by a particular moment or interaction, remove yourself from the situation, regroup and return after you have had the chance to cool down.

Dementia Care: What to Avoid

You want to exude patience, kindness and joy when providing memory care to a person living with dementia. However, some actions can negatively influence your relationship with your family member while increasing stress and anxiety. Here are some dementia care behaviors you want to be aware of and avoid. 

DON’T Argue: A person living with dementia might say things that are incorrect, become confused or argue with you about certain topics. Even if they don’t understand their error, correcting them may embarrass them or cause them to become more frustrated by the situation.

DON’T Try to “Cure” Them: One of the most difficult aspects of dementia is that it is irreversible. Until a cure is found, once a part of the brain has been affected by dementia, you cannot undo the damage. All you can do is move forward and provide the highest standard of support and care for your family member. 

If you focus too much on treating the disease instead of treating the person, you run the risk of dehumanizing them, reducing them to a single diagnosis instead of finding every opportunity to provide joy to the person.

DON’T Remove Their Independence: While a person living with dementia may require assistance and support, it does not mean that they should not be given opportunities to live with independence, autonomy and vitality. When you take away a person’s ability to make independent decisions and control the direction of their own life, they can become frustrated, lonely and overwhelmed.

Dementia takes away many aspects of independence, but a person living with dementia is still looking for the chance to control their life. You can provide these opportunities by giving them the support they need to remain safe while not becoming overbearing. This also means including them in decisions. For example, instead of telling Mom what she is wearing today, give her two options to choose from; this can be a low-stress way to encourage independence and involvement.

At Astral at Franklin, our highly trained dementia care specialists have the background and experience to help residents live safer, happier lives. By following these practices, you can help a person living with dementia maintain their independence, freedom and happiness.

We invite you to visit our website to learn more about the Navigate Memory Care Program at Astral at Franklin.

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