The early stages of dementia may find your parent simply forgetting a word or their train of thought. Eventually, it may be difficult for them to perceive space and time as well as experience short-term memory loss, leaving them discussing events that happened years ago as though they occurred yesterday. Confabulation occurs—fabricating an imaginary experience to fill in the memory gaps of recent events. Eventually, behavioral problems may ensue and you may find it difficult to maintain a conversation just as they are finding it difficult to engage in one.
Tips for Communicating
- Much of what is communicated lies in the tone of voice, facial expressions and hand gestures. The actual words represent very little of what is expressed. Remember this as you engage with your parent. Keep your voice calm and reassuring. Place your hands gently on their shoulder or hands. Maintain a stress-free presence even when you’re feeling agitated.
- Limit distractions by turning off the TV and limiting conversations to no more than one or two people at a time. If people are talking in the same room, take your parent to a different room or ask for quiet for a moment.
- When talking, ask yes or no questions. Keep subjects simple and speak slowly with a low pitch.
- If your parent is becoming agitated and confused, be there for them. Though they may be in a different day or time than you, they need your reassurance. The world where they are dwelling is very real to them and trying to convince them otherwise will only lead to hurt feelings. If they seem to be headed down a bad road in their mind, redirect them to something present and simple, show them a picture and let them talk about it. Be kind.
- Often they are trying to convey something with actions or inappropriate words. They may be pulling items out of the refrigerator and stacking them in a cabinet because they are hungry. Try to find the meaning behind the action.
You as a Caregiver
There will be times when you get frustrated, sad, impatient and confused. Don’t beat yourself up. Not one person upon this planet is perfect. Be sure to give yourself some time to live a balanced life and do the things that bring you joy. Senior care providers have cared for countless seniors experiencing the effects of dementia. Trust them to take care of your parent when you can’t be there. They often become one of your parent’s closest companions and advocates.
If you or an aging loved-one are considering in-home senior care in Los Gatos, CA, please contact the caring staff at Bay Area Home Care. Call today 650-938-4031.