When caring for a loved one impacted by memory loss and dementia, you know that you may have to deal with undesirable and often unpredictable behaviors stemming from their cognitive impairment disorder. Your loved one may unexpectedly feel anxious, confused, or agitated. It’s easy to feel like there is no solution when your loved one is experiencing these symptoms, but there are techniques to help diminish the severity, including redirection. Here are some tips to help you redirect your loved one when they are experiencing dementia-related symptoms:
1. Take a few seconds to pause and think.
It is easy, especially as a family caregiver, to respond immediately instead of taking a few seconds to pause and think about how to respond best based on the specific symptoms. When you stop to breathe and clear your mind, you are more likely to have a successful redirection and help relieve your loved one’s symptoms.
2. Don’t try to explain why they are wrong.
Our instinct is to attempt to explain or reason in a situation where it is clear that the other person is wrong. Still, your loved one will not respond well to an explanation or an attempt to reason with them because of how dementia has affected their brain. Instead of explaining or reasoning with them, try asking them how you can help. You don’t necessarily have to say that you believe what they are saying is actually happening, but you can acknowledge their feelings and address any concerns they may have.
For example, if your loved one is anxious about why someone isn’t there when the person has previously passed away, you can tell your loved one something like “we would have heard something if they were in trouble,” instead of just telling them that the person has died.
3. Keep it simple.
It is important not to ask too much of your loved one at one time. Too many requests can overwhelm them to the point of not being able to do what you have asked. For example, suppose you are trying to get your loved one to perform their daily hygiene routine, including taking a bath and brushing their teeth. In that case, your instinct may be to say something like, “Dad, we need to go to the bathroom so that you can take a bath, and then we can brush your teeth after.” Instead, try something simpler like “Dad, let’s go to the bathroom.”
Breaking up each task into a separate request can go a long way!
Need to consider alternative care options?
Remember that you are at risk of fatigue and burnout as a care provider. Be sure to use whatever help is available to you so that you can continue to provide the level of care you desire to give your loved one.
If you would like to discuss developing a care plan for your loved one, call us at 919-899-2606 or schedule a free case assessment via our website. One of our friendly Client Welcome Specialists will be happy to tell you more about The Alzheimer’s Planning Center and our unique Memory Safeguard Planning to help you determine the best path forward for your loved one.