January 11, 2017

Dementia or senility refers to a broad category of brain diseases that causes a gradual decline of cognitive function. This can have an affect on the loved ones or caregivers of the person affected, as they can be treated with indifference or ignored. Other symptoms can include emotional problems, decreased function and motivation and problems with language.

How should you approach someone with dementia?

Approach slowly. If you approach too fast, you will likely be greeted with confusion and indifference as your loved one tries to identify and place you. Wait for them to be aware of your presence and approach slowly.

Make sure to make eye contact. This can help them to see you and hopefully have recognition.

Introduce yourself. Make sure to introduce yourself, even though the person may be a parent or close relative. Give them the chance to identify you by name and then hopefully, experience other recognition. They may response indignantly with a “I know who you are!”.

Use names aloud. If you are with other friends or family members, use their names aloud. It will help ease confusion or misrecognition.

Ask a simple question. Then wait for the response. Don’t forget to be patient as they gather their thoughts. You may have to ask the initial question differently or go on to another subject if you don’t receive a response.

Smile. If there is confusion within them, a smile will to identify you as a friend or someone safe. Happiness can help them to feel a connection.

During the advancement of dementia, patients can become emotional and frustrated as there are parts of their brain that remembers what is going on but they cannot process any of it. There is not one right way to approach people with dementia. The best thing is to use your wise judgment when dealing with the loved one affected – remember who they were when they were at their best. All caregivers should get involved with support groups and the patient’s doctor. Caregivers need emotional and physical support to avoid burnout and emotional and physical injury.

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