Connecting with a Loved One With Dementia

Relationship dynamics change when a loved one is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or other form of dementia. And it can be hard to find ways to communicate or connect. Here are some tips for dementia caregivers:

Find new ways to communicate. Communicating with someone who has dementia can be frustrating. Odds are you’ll have to do most of the talking, especially in the later stages of your loved one’s disease. Keep questions to a minimum, and stick to those with “yes” or “no” answers.

Be prepared to tell your loved one about your day or what your kids or grandkids have been doing. Or the new Kansas City restaurant you tried.

And don’t argue. You won’t win. If an argument seems imminent, change the subject.

Learn what not to say. Knowing what not to say to someone with dementia can be just as important as finding new communication strategies. For example, if your loved one is looking for a deceased relative, don’t remind him (or her) that person is dead. Just say something like, “She’s not here right now,” and change the subject.

Plan activities in which your loved one with dementia can participate. If your loved one is unable to participate in the usual family activities, find new things that you can all do together. Some examples may include looking at old photos, listening to music, baking cookies, or just taking a walk around your Kansas City neighborhood.

Maintain a positive attitude. Dementia can cause frustration for both you and the person who has dementia. Starting each day with a positive outlook can set the tone for the rest of the day.

Be flexible. Unfortunately, dementia is a progressive illness. So you’ll have to learn to adapt to new routines and activities as your loved one’s disease progresses. For example, you may need to replace “game night” with “movie night” when games become too difficult for the person with dementia.

Get help if you need it. Being a dementia caregiver is challenging, so it’s okay to ask for help when you need it. Remember, you can’t be an effective caregiver if you don’t also take care of yourself. Enlisting the help of Kansas City home care agency that specializes in Alzheimer’s and dementia care can take some of the pressure off of you and allow you some much needed respite.

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