Hugs can help calm down those living with dementia and make them feel safe.

Tips for those who are caring for people living with dementia

By Jonathan Acton - jonathan.acton@homeinstead.ie

Congratulations to Virgin media for their coverage on dementia over the last week or so. They seem to have covered every angle, from understanding a person with dementia to getting an idea of how the disease can affect a family member or CAREGiver.

In addition, Virgin managed to explore and educate us all as to the supports that are available throughout the community.

This campaign prompted me to explore what would be the best tips or advice I could share with you.

I happened to find an article useful and appropriate written by Marike Coetzee, an occupational therapist with a passion for supporting CAREGivers assisting people living with dementia.

Here are some useful tips I have singled out from my research...

1. Refrain from correcting the person when they’re telling a story incorrectly or repeatedly asking the same questions. Remember that the person does not realise they have already told you this and your reaction may make them feel stupid. Please try to be sensitive.

2. Reassure the person with dementia that he or she is safe.

3. Talk about things from their past that have meaning to them.

4. Look at old photos together. They might not remember the situation when the photo was taken, but it may help them to remember an old friend or someone special to them.

I’m reminded of how special it was to see Jack Charlton remembering Paul McGrath in video footage in a recent programme.

5. Music is a great way to calm someone living with dementia. Use music that is known to them.

Again, in the same programme, Jack was able to relate to the Geordie song, Blaydon Races. Priceless!

6. Use a fixed routine. Eat, shower and sleep, at specific times.

7. Aromatherapy works wonders. Lavender can help calm them and also help with sleep, lowering frustration levels.

8. Hugs can help calm down those living with dementia and make them feel safe. Covid-19 has made hugs difficult, especially for people in nursing homes, but hopefully, with vaccinations and easing of restrictions, we can bring back the hugs.

9. Be aware of medication interaction or urinary tract infections, which can lead to symptoms getting worse.

10. Get their attention before talking to them.

11. Keep sentences short and clear so that they are easier to understand.

12. Break down activities and tasks to shorter and simpler steps. Preferably one-step instructions.

13. What works one day might not work the next day. Try different methods for tasks.

14. When they become anxious, draw attention to something else, such as a conversation about another topic. Redirection can work well to divert from something a person is finding too stressful to process.

15. Keep a sense of humour. No matter how old someone is, we all need a good laugh – so keep that in mind, it’s good for the soul. We all love an aul giggle!

If you would like to know more about how our CAREGivers could provide support to your loved one living with dementia, please check out Homeinstead.ie or give us a call on 044 9385260 and I will be happy to call you back for a chat.

Stay safe everyone!

Home Instead, Marlinstown Office Park, Mullingar - 044 9385260