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Why Reassurance Should Be Used in Dementia Care

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For a senior loved one with dementia, the world can be frightening, baffling, frustrating, and threatening. When experiencing shifting reality, reassurance can be comforting. Here’s the difference reassurance makes in providing dementia care.

Curbs Aggression

Attempts to maintain control may include throwing objects, pushing, and hitting. If your loved one is combative, first determine why. Think about what occurred just before the flare-up. Common triggers are physical discomfort, loud sounds, and busy surroundings. Listen for the feelings behind the behavior, then calmly validate your loved one’s viewpoint. Next, try to cast the undesirable activity in a pleasant light. You might also pair soothing words with a favorite object.

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Reduces Disorientation

Lacking short-term memory, your loved one may revert to a time when he or she felt secure. Since you can’t take your loved one back to the past, adopt his or her perspective, so long as it’s safe. Trying to orient a senior with dementia usually doesn’t work. Forcing the issue by insisting on the present time and place can be traumatizing. If your loved one won’t budge from his or her stance, direct his or her attention to a different activity. This strategy should be friendly rather than commanding.

Calms Anxiety

Fear has various triggers, such as time of day, surroundings, unfamiliarity, dreading tasks, anticipating discomfort, and difficulty communicating. Loss of memory and independence erode confidence. Apprehension also stems from the inability to process new information. Once you identify the cause of worry, address it with soothing tones and words. Smiles, hugs, and kisses are some of the many gestures that relieve anxiety and raise self-esteem. If possible, change the environment or situation so it’s less frightening. You might try playing calming music or singing softly to ensure your loved one’s comfort. If he or she is cringing or hesitating, ask permission or provide choices. Divide an overwhelming task into small steps.

Removes Suspicion and Blame

Dementia often causes seniors to misinterpret what they see and hear, and memory loss can lead to paranoia. Your loved one might blame missing items on theft and make accusations. However, it’s likely that objects are misplaced, and suggesting this may prompt aggression. Listen attentively and acknowledge what’s said without arguing or trying to convince otherwise. State that you’re also concerned and will help your loved one find the lost object. One strategy some caregivers use is buying duplicates of commonly lost items. If the absent article can’t be found or duplicated, use redirection.

Calming and reassuring a senior with dementia can be difficult at times. Families who find it difficult to care for their aging loved ones without assistance can benefit greatly from professional respite care. Scottsdale, AZ, family caregivers who need a break from their caregiving duties can turn to Home Care Assistance. Using our proprietary Balanced Care Method, our respite caregivers can encourage your loved one to eat well, exercise regularly, get plenty of mental and social stimulation, and focus on other lifestyle factors that promote longevity.

Decreases Repetition

Signs of dementia include saying and doing things repeatedly, pacing, and undoing tasks that have just been completed. Repetitive actions are usually driven by the need to feel comfortable and secure, but they can also signal boredom. If you can trace the action to the need, fulfilling the need may stop the routine. If you can’t, gauge the underlying feeling and respond with comforting words or a gentle touch. You may be able to divert the repetition with a visual aid such as a fond photograph. If not, steer your loved one to a pleasant activity. Another effective technique is “bridge phrasing,” which involves picking up the thread of a conversation and expanding it. Make sure the subject of the conversation is something that will capture your loved one’s interest.

Prevents Forgetfulness and Confusion

Dementia makes it difficult to remember and recognize familiar things. Your loved one may forget people, names, and the purpose of everyday objects such as forks and pens. If your loved one gets upset by a memory lapse, calmly and casually remind him or her. Use photos and other known items to help your loved one recall people, things, and places, and keep your explanations brief. To slow cognitive decline, ensure mental stimulation by providing puzzles, reading material, board games, hobby supplies, and socialization. Encourage your loved one to learn new skills.

Boosts Self-Esteem

As a consoling presence, you can prevent your loved one from experiencing aggression, disorientation, anxiety, suspicion, repetition, forgetfulness, and confusion. Staying calm in stressful situations makes them more manageable. Be generous with your smiles, hugs, kisses, and kind words. Your warm support fosters cooperation, confidence, self-esteem, and trust. In times of distress, reassurance shows how much you care.

Hiring a professional caregiver is one of the best ways to help seniors manage the symptoms of dementia and enjoy a high quality of life. Find out how a Scottsdale, Arizona, elderly caregiver can help your senior loved one enjoy a higher quality of life by reaching out to Home Care Assistance. All of our professional respite and live-in caregivers are trained in comprehensive Alzheimer’s, dementia, Parkinson’s, and stroke care, and they can also assist seniors with basic daily tasks like exercise, cooking, bathing, and light housekeeping. To learn about our premier in-home care plans, give us a call at 480.448.6215 today.