Dementia affects people in different ways, but we should always keep in mind that the dementia patient is still an individual with feelings and should be treated with dignity and respect.
Living together under these conditions is a challenge for the relative and the person with dementia.
Advice to make day-to-day life easier:
- Support the person’s independence: use the person’s available capacity.
- Create good routines – they provide structure to your daily life together.
- Simplify daily life: make the choices and activities easier.
- Avoid conflict: do not draw attention to the person’s failures.
- Do things that both of you can manage and appreciate, e.g. going for a walk.
- Encourage activities – it enhances the person’s self-esteem and dignity.
Communication with the dementia patient can become more difficult as the disease progresses. Do bear in mind that it could also be due to old age. Remember to get their vision and hearing checked and to try out suitable aids.
Support when communicating with people with dementia:
- Speak clearly and slowly, face to face and at eye level.
- Take note of the person’s body language.
- By all means hold your conversational partner by the hand.
- Think about your own body language.
- Make sure you have the person’s attention.
Dementia can change people so that patients no longer react in the same way that they used to.
Certain people with dementia may demonstrate inappropriate sexual behaviour, such as undressing in public or touching someone in an inappropriate way.
Try not to over-react and never forget that it is an effect of the disease. A good way to resolve the situation is to distract the patient and encourage them to do some other activity.
As a family member, it is easy to feel guilt or anxiety about your partner’s needs or your own. It is wise to be patient, while at the same time you must not accept anything that feels uncomfortable.