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dealing with dementia behaviors

dealing with dementia behaviors

Practical tips for dealing with disturbed behaviour in dementia

General tips

• Establish a daily routine. This will make life a lot simpler because you will know what is to be done, how often, when and so on.

• As far as possible, let the elderly person be independent. For example, many can feed themselves, even if they are slow and unsteady.

• Never forget that the elderly person has dignity. Do not talk negatively about her in her presence.

• Preserve an elderly person’s privacy during intimate activities such as bathing.

• Avoid confrontation and arguments.

• Keep tasks simple.

• Laugh with the elderly person (never at her).

• Help make the best of a person’s abilities; simple tasks can be found which the person

could do and which could also provide some exercise.

• Make sure that the person’s eyeglasses are correct.

• Speak slowly and clearly. If the elderly person has not understood, try to say things using simpler words and shorter sentences.

• Show love and affection whenever possible. A hug is worth a hundred pills.

• Use memory aids such as labelling doors to the bathroom or a writing board in the room on which today’s day and date is written every day.

• Avoid unnecessary medicines.

Bathing and personal hygiene

• Independence: let the elderly person do as much as possible unaided.

• Dignity: bathe the elderly person with underpants on.

• Safety: a chair to sit on while being bathed; a mat that does not slip on a wet floor.

Toileting

• A regular toilet routine.

• Use clothing that can be easily removed (and put back on).

• Limit drinks at bedtime.

• Keep a vessel for urine during the nights.

• Special pads for incontinence in older people can be obtained.

Feeding and eating

• Use finger foods.

• Cut up food into small, bite-size pieces.

• Do not serve food too hot.

• Remind the person how to eat (with hands or how to use cutlery).

• If the elderly person has difficult swallowing, refer to a specialist.

• Mix the food and serve it in a ready-to-eat state (for example, mixing curry and rice).

Suspiciousness and anger

• Do not argue back; keep your calm.

• Try to comfort; hold hands firmly and talk gently.

• Distract the person by drawing attention to something in the room.

• Try to find out what made the elderly person angry – and try to avoid this in future.

• Consider medication such as haloperidol.

Wandering away from home

• Use an identification bracelet or necklace.

• Keep the doors of the house locked.

• When the elderly person is found, don’t show anger.

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