When you are not familiar with dementia, it can be incredibly difficult to navigate the best approach to providing dementia care. Person centred care, in line with the social model of dementia, is always best practice. There is significant research into what can help people, and what can cause more harm.
How to Help Someone with Dementia
Taking a person centred approach means embracing the social history, background and individual personality of the person who is living with dementia. This is based on the idea that we should see the person as a whole, focusing on their remaining abilities and emotions, rather than the losses caused by the disease. Building a care plan around this concept is crucial in increasing wellbeing and contentment.
There are many useful things you can do to support a person living with dementia. Always remember that the best care focuses on their individuality and what they are still able to accomplish. For example, if there is a skill or ability which they are still interested in and can achieve, focus on encouraging this, enabling their independence. Create meaningful occupation through activities that they prefer boosts mood and reduces stress. Learning and understanding a person’s past will provide clues which may help explain behaviours.
Helpful tips for providing care to a loved one living with dementia:
- Provide a calm environment where sensory overload is reduced (for example consider the amount of noise from TV, radio, and doors etc.).
- Always go with their reality – climb into their world by validating and supporting to them when you are talking.
- Focus on improving your own mood and body language, ensuring that you are calm, relaxed, smiling and always at eye level.
- Use visual cues rather than written signs or instructions
- Utilise B&M Care’s local homes for support in the form of a respite stay, advice, or by attending a Living Well with Dementia Seminar or Virtual Dementia Tour to learn more about how you can help.
Dementia Care Don’ts
There are certain things that can be avoided when caring for a person living with dementia, which will make both their life and your life easier. Always remember that they are adults, so it is not necessary to infantilise them or patronise them when you are speaking. Never minimise the importance of patience and simplification.
Some things should be avoided when caring for a loved living with dementia, for example:
- You should always try to avoid raising your voice or becoming angry and agitated in any situation – remaining calm is key. Confronting or correcting the person will only confuse them more.
- If you can control the environment where your loved one is being cared for, make sure to avoid busy wallpaper, or bedding and carpets with a lot of patterns as this will overwhelm and confuse. Black carpets and rugs may be perceived as holes and should also be avoided if possible.
- Offering too many choices or providing vague instructions will also only serve to confuse and agitate.
- Loud noises and too many people will create a sensory overload that can make the symptoms of dementia worse.
We aim to make every moment count for people living with dementia. This is achieved by always operating within our Rose Model of Dementia Care, which is informed by nationally advocated guidance and strategy which states that best practice is always person centred. Your loved ones can live well with dementia, with the right care, engagement in meaningful occupation, and an environment that resonates with them.
If you would like to know more about the science behind dementia, and the best way to provide excellent care to those living with it, you can attend one of our free Living Well with Dementia seminars, or Virtual Dementia Tours. You are also welcome to contact us, or visit your local B&M Care Home, for information or support.