It can be emotionally draining to have conversations with older adults that have dementia, as it can be uncomfortable when things are incoherent or become inappropriate. Nevertheless, their condition does not change who they are to you, especially if they are your loved ones. Although it can seem daunting at first, it is important to adapt to their behavior as oftentimes, they may already feel frustrated living with dementia. Responding with patience and kindness can go a long way. Here are some things you shouldn’t say to them.
Telling Them They’re Wrong
Dementia can cause older adults to be confused and in a vulnerable emotional state. For caregivers, it can be difficult to go along with something a loved one says that isn’t correct. However, reasoning with someone who has a loss of cognitive function can be in vain, and even backfire by upsetting them. The best way to counter this is not to disagree and redirect their attention to another subject, one that is ideally pleasant.
Asking if They Remember
Sometimes, it can slip our minds to be mindful not to ask if our loved ones can remember things. Asking if they can remember a family member, a friend, or what they did today, are questions that can be avoided when talking to them. Forgetfulness is one of the most common symptoms of dementia, and usually, the answer is already “No”. It may cause your loved ones to feel embarrassed and worried that they cannot remember certain memories you asked them about. Instead, use “I remember”, as this takes away the pressure of whether they can remember a memory or not.
Reminding Them Someone Passed Away
Your loved ones might be upset that a late friend or family member has not been calling or visiting. As heartbreaking as it is, forgetting that other people have passed on is a common occurrence for those with dementia. Reminding them the hard truth can sadden them greatly, and they may not believe you, especially in the later stages of dementia. Even if you choose to remind them that the person has passed on already, they are highly likely to forget soon afterward. Alternatively, it may be best to redirect the conversation to another topic of their interest or distract them by talking about the scenery outside. You can also try therapeutic fibbing, which allows you to step into their current reality, and offer other explanations for why the person has not visited, or that they will see them soon. Ultimately, grieving and loss are delicate matters, and what works best for your loved ones depends on the situation.
Reaching out for Help
It can be hard to care for your loved ones with dementia. Our SHINE® Memory Care program at Rittenhouse Village At Lehigh Valley is nationally recognized by the Alzheimer’s Association®. Our caregivers and nurses have gone through extensive training and are dedicated to providing the highest quality of care to your loved ones. To learn more about our senior living options, contact us today.