Login | Text size A A A | Text version

Our blog

Top 12 ways to support someone with dementia
Post date: 14 May 2015

Laarni, deputy manager at Darland House
Laarni, deputy manager at Darland House

Laarni, deputy manager at Darland House

I am Laarni, deputy manager of Darland House, our care home for older people with dementia. I’m also known as Wendy by one of the residents, who occasionally confuses me for her daughter. I always take it as a compliment.

1. Don’t contradict

This is the first lesson for caring for someone with dementia; don’t contradict them – it’s confusing and upsetting for them. Whatever they are feeling in the moment is real for them. You have to go into their world.

2. Keep them involved in society

Social interaction plays a big part of their overall wellness. We do our best to break the social isolation that is common for people with dementia. We bring our patients to the seaside, to the pub, to the shops; we involve them in a range of activities and that makes a big difference.

3. Make their home life stimulating

For patients who don’t want to go out, there’s plenty happening here at Darland House to keep them mentally stimulated; we bring in people from the community to do anything from reflexology to performing. We have visitors with certified therapy dogs who spend time with us. We even have church services available.

4. Play music

Music is a really effective therapeutic tool for people with dementia. I remember a magical moment when a resident who could hardly speak suddenly started singing all the words to one of their favourite songs on the radio. Another person with limited mobility started to tap his feet. They still remember the old songs.

5. Trigger old memories

Dementia effects different individuals differently but most of the time it’s the short term memory which is most affected. The long term memory is often well preserved. If you take out an old photo album, rather than pointing to a picture and asking ‘who is that in the picture’, say instead "here you are with your brother Michael – do you remember that day at the seaside pier?” Often they will start to remember and tell the rest of the tale themselves.

6. Every day is different

What's good for them today may be no good tomorrow. The condition changes every day.

7. Be aware that dementia is not just a disease of memory

And it’s not a natural part of aging; it’s a disease of the brain which effects thinking, mobility and more. People with dementia sometimes have trouble differentiating colour. Sometimes if a chair is the same colour as the carpet, they can miss the chair in trying to sit on it. Colour contrast is important in their living environment.

8. Do things with them, not for them or to them

Be more understanding that some simple things take more time. A person might take time to open the door -- give them space and be understanding. Don't make them feel like they are disabled; support them at the level they need.

9. Use all your tools for communication

Sometimes a person with dementia could have problems processing words, so gestures and facial expressions are vital. Don’t just say "do you want a cup of tea”, hold up the cup and make sure your face is expressing the offering.

10. Remember everyone is different

Dementia effects everyone differently. No matter what, remember to treat the person with care and at their level; the person comes first and the disease second. Treat them as you would like to be treated. Always offer them choice; don't take for granted that they can't choose for themselves; this takes away their power and independence.

11. Be assured that life does not end when dementia begins

Here at Darland House we look after 40 people with dementia and some of our residents have been here for nine years. If a person continues to be mentally stimulated, engaged in society and well supported by family and friends, they can live each day happily.

12. Become a dementia friend

I run awareness sessions for the public, to encourage people to become a ‘dementia friend’ so that they know how to be more supportive to family, friends and members of their community with dementia. If you would like me to talk to a community group that you are a part of, please get in touch.

There are no comments for this blog.