What to keep in mind when an elderly loved one has been diagnosed with dementia

We are currently looking to recruit a Care Assistant into our Minehead home in Somerset. Benefits of this position include continuous learning and training, a pension scheme, 28 days annual leave (pro rata from a fulltime contract), internal progression and opportunity to take part in regular team socials. If you are interested in finding out more about the role or to apply for the role please visit our Job Vacancies page.

What to keep in mind when an elderly loved one has been diagnosed with dementia

To some, the news that a loved one has dementia does not necessarily come as a shock. After all, the diagnosis was likely spurred on by the suspicion that they were afflicted. But that in no way means they are prepared for the consequences of such a situation. Once the initial upset has been overcome they’ll find that life must go on, and that applies to their loved one too.

If you have a loved one that has recently been diagnosed with dementia then we hope you find some use and comfort in the following 3 basic tips.

1: Don’t rely on logic

People with memory loss will on occasion act in very odd, unreasonable ways. Appealing to their sense of reason or trying to engage with them through rational arguments to behave appropriately is often counter-productive. It doesn’t matter how logical your arguments are, they will likely be uncooperative. During these episodes their mental state is unable to appreciate the reality of life.

And that’s okay.

Instead, try to engage with them using clear, simple explanations of what is about to occur. When they are making demands you cannot fulfil, rather than argue your point rationally, try to steer the conversation in another direction based on the theme of their subject.

For instance, if they are insisting they have not yet had lunch just after having eaten, rather than try to convince them otherwise it may be more effective to begin a discussion on what their favourite food is.

2: Be a leader

You may not want to dictate over the life of your elderly loved one, but being a firm leader is vital for the success of day to day activities. Living with dementia can mean that making decisions sometimes lead to confusion, frustration and irritation.

For instance, if you noticed they were particularly struggling with their illness that day and you were both preparing for a trip outside, instead of asking them which shoes they would like to wear it may be easier to choose yourself and simply tell them that it is time to put them on.

Of course all the best leaders are not afraid of accepting help. Whenever it is offered, or whenever you need it, don’t be afraid to reach out for some assistance. In the long run feeling overwhelmed will only do more harm to both you and your sick loved one.

3: Bend the truth

Repetition is common when talking with someone who has memory problems. There are only so many times a day you can remind someone that they are retired or that their significant other is deceased. Every time you tell them, the pain of the revelation can also accompany the information.

There really is no shame in telling the occasional fib. If they are worried about being late for work, tell them they have the day booked off. When they ask about someone from their past, say that person has gone away for a while.

You’ll often find yourself in a world opposite to what you may be used to, where truth and logic are discarded in favour of dictating and asking others for help.  It is important, and beneficial for their cognitive skills, that your loved one remains as independent as possible for as long as they can.

As the disease progresses however, you might want to consider housing them in a specialist dementia care home.

Eastleigh Care Homes have decades of experience looking after elderly residents with dementia in Devon and Somerset. If you feel a care home would be beneficial for your loved one then please feel free to call us on 01769 573 166 to discuss any questions you may have.