When you have a family member who suffers from dementia, it's important to always be aware of how you interact with him or her. The staff members at the memory care home at which your loved one resides can give you some lessons on how to proceed in this matter, but it's important to learn these lessons on your own, too. Dementia patients can get overwhelmed and quickly become agitated if you give them tasks that might have been simple a few years ago, but that are now challenging. Remaining patient and empathetic is important to keep the situation from escalating, but you may also find that dividing tasks into smaller assignments can be easier for your family member. Here are some ways to approach this idea.
Telling a dementia patient to simply "get dressed" may seem simple enough to you, but this task can seem monumental to the patient. If you're visiting your loved one and want to take him or her on an outing, getting dressed with be on the to-do list. You'll often find more success if you break the task down. For example, tell the person to put on his or her socks, then proceed with the underwear. With a seemingly simple task such as putting on pants, actually telling the person to put one leg through, followed by the other leg, and then do the zipper up can be a systematic approach that the person can successfully follow.
Dementia patients often take a long time to eat, and this can be a source of frustration for their family members. If you're enjoying a meal with your loved one at the memory care home, don't be afraid to once again divide this task into a series of smaller tasks. There's nothing wrong with gently reminding the patient to dig his or her fork into the mashed potatoes and then eat that fork full. If you have young children, this step-by-step approach might seem familiar, but it can be an effective way to not only keep the patient eating steadily, but also prevent him or her from getting overwhelmed with how to proceed.
If your loved one has recently moved into a care facility like Wellspring Meadows Assisted Living, he or she may be anxious to take you on a tour. However, as the tour begins, the patient may get overwhelmed or forgetful. Don't be afraid to give verbal cues to help him or her complete this task. For example, if the patient has met you in the lobby of the home, simply ask to be taken to his or her room. Then, ask if you can visit the activities room or the dining area. By breaking this larger process into smaller tasks, it will be easier for the patient.