In recent years, those who live with dementia are leading fuller, more active lives than they may have done in previous decades. Treatment is more readily available, and though there is no known cure as yet, the general public are better informed in how to approach those who have it.
But if you’ve not met someone who has dementia before, there are a few easy mistakes to make which can be embarrassing and distressing for everyone involved. Below are a few things to avoid when conversing with someone who has dementia.
One of the most difficult symptoms of dementia to navigate is the loss of full recall (https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/11826-memory-loss-signs-of-dementia–more-). Many people with dementia can become very distressed and embarrassed when asked a direct question about past events that they have difficulty remembering. Sometimes the inability to recall can be very slight or can be dramatic.
“If a person with dementia talks about a subject that shows they are having difficulty recalling, you should ask yourself whether it is truly necessary,” writes Stephen James, an author at Academized and PaperFellows. “If you do need to help them remember something, avoid asking them directly, and talk, instead, about what you remember about an event or story.”
Dementia can affect verbal cognition. Remember that if a person with dementia is having difficulty understanding an instruction, continuing to repeat that instruction is likely to confuse them further. If you need a person with dementia to perform a series of actions, such as putting on a coat and shoes and getting into a car, listing them off in one go is going to overwhelm them.
Instead, give clear direction for each task you want them to do. It is important to issue them as directions rather than questions as they may have difficulty understanding the context for each action.
In fact, it is a good idea to modify your language over all. Even those who have had a large vocabulary may have difficulty fully comprehending long winding sentences. Using complex words and difficult phrases is likely to cause confusion which, in turn, can lead to embarrassment and irritation.
Instead, use simple sentences with uncomplicated words. Having said that, remember that dementia doesn’t affect a person’s IQ, so it is also important not to become condescending.
Living with dementia can be distressing enough without someone constantly reminding you of all you may not recall. If you are speaking with someone who lives with dementia it is important to avoid conversations which may make them emotional. This can include correcting aspects of their lives that they may not recall, or distressing events such as a loved one’s death which they may not remember.
It is best to avoid conversing on explosives subjects such as politics or religion,” says Jane Renbourne, a regular contributor to Custom Writing Service and BigAssignments. “Though they may be able to recall aspects of this, those who live with dementia have difficulty dealing with conflict. Even what seems like a slight disagreement may spiral out of control. “
Most importantly of all, it is important to remain as patient as can be when interacting with a person living with dementia. Showing haste to complete their sentences, telling them things you think they should remember and disrespecting their need to communicate for themselves is as upsetting as it is with anyone else. Remember that however difficult adapting to dementia is for the observer, it can be a constant source of frustration for the person who has it.
However, if you show some understanding and patience, there is no reason that both you and your friend with dementia cannot spend some wonderful and meaningful times together.