Aged Care and Dementia - Juniper

Aged Care and Dementia

Aged care and dementia: strategies for providing compassionate support

When a loved one has been diagnosed with dementia, it can be a rollercoaster of emotions for everyone involved.

But many people with dementia can lead an active, fulfilling lives for years after their diagnosis.

Understanding Dementia: what is it?

It’s important to understand that no two people will experience dementia in the same way.

How dementia affects a person’s memory, thinking and behaviour will vary for each individual.

Early symptoms can include difficulties remembering recent events, making decisions, expressing thoughts, understanding what others are saying, performing complex asks or getting around.

While dementia is more common in people over the age of 65, it is also possible to get diagnosed as early as your 30s, 40s or 50s. This is known as early onset dementia.

Create a safe environment

What is the best way to make your loved one feel safe and comfortable when they are experiencing challenges with dementia?

Creating a calm environment where the person feels respected, understood and at ease is a good starting point.

Ways to do this can include:

  • reducing any noise by lowering or turning off music or TV
  • dimming any bright lights
  • limiting the number of visitors at one time so the person does not feel overwhelmed
  • Creating pleasant smells that can help people relax – for example, scents of lavender, vanilla, baked bread and coffee can conjure positive memories and experiences.

How to communicate with a loved one living with dementia

While many people with dementia will be able to communicate easily, it is important to always approach every interaction with dignity and respect.

“Every person has preferences on how they want to live – and dementia impacts their choices,” Juniper Manager of Clinical Governance Nina D’Sylva said.

“A common difficulty that people with dementia struggle with is being able to communicate their needs.

“People with dementia are not always able to communicate their choices, so it’s essential to have people around them that are patient and understand how dementia progresses.”

Some suggestions on how to approach a conversation with a loved one who has dementia include:

  • Remaining calm and talk gently and clearly.
  • Keeping sentences short and simple.
  • Give your loved one time to think and respond to a question.
  • Using relationships and places to help the person understand what you are trying to say, for example: “Your daughter Sarah”.
  • Try to stick to asking questions that only need a yes or no response or a short, simple answer.
  • Use hand gestures and facial expressions during conversations to help explain what you’re trying to say. Use inviting body language like a smile, being at the same level and uncrossed arms.
  • If your loved one is getting frustrated or irritable, stop the conversation and give them time to recover and restart the conversation at another time.

Source: Dementia Australia

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