1. Be curious about what is driving a person with dementia to respond a certain way. For example, a woman in a nursing home says she needs to go home. Find out what home means to her. In her reality does she have a job to do at home or people to care for. Or does she just not want to be in the current environment. If it is the latter, try moving to a different location in the building or going outside.
2. Consider using memory care for respite instead of waiting until you absolutely must make that transition.
3. When the spouse is the primary caregiver, it is most common for the husband to reach the point of moving his wife into long-term care when she becomes incontinent. A wife commonly makes this decision for her husband when he exhibits violent behaviors, and she no longer feels safe.
4. When looking for a memory care community make sure to ask questions about how they prioritize person centered care and what exactly they do. You want people providing person centered care to be curious about who your loved one is and what is important to them.
5. People who are social might have an easier time acclimating to memory care than someone who likes to keep to themselves.
6. When researching memory care visit in person with someone who is close to the individual with dementia. This could be the primary caregiver like the spouse or if you are the primary caregiver choose someone supportive of your situation to go with. Once you have a couple options in mind you can invite your loved one to visit them.
7. Consider making the space look like a nice hotel room to feel comfortable yet temporary as opposed to immediately making it look like their home.
8. When your loved one with dementia does not remember who you are step into their reality instead of telling them who you are. For example, you visit your dad with dementia, and he says, “Who are you?”. Instead of saying “I am your daughter.”, you can ask him a serious of questions to find out more. You can say “You don’t know who I am. Do I look familiar? Do I seem friendly? Do I sound familiar?” If he answers yes to these questions that is a good sign even though he does not know you in his mind. Detaching from trying to force him to remember you are his daughter may be difficult but it is necessary so you can be there for him in the moment. Next you can introduce yourself by name and instead of saying, “I’m your daughter.”, you can say “I am someone who loves you. Is there something I can do to help you.”
9. Temporal dementia is a type of dementia that affects a person’s ability to feel and express emotion the same way they used to.
10. People who live with Alzheimer’s often have increased and more exaggerated emotional responses.
11. Connect with each other by shifting focus from conversations that require short-term memory and working memory recall to having conversations that allow person with dementia to recall things from there long-term memory which is still intact.
12. Use visual cues. For example, someone with dementia asks when her appointment is. As the caregiver this is the 4th time you have talked about the upcoming appointment, and it is on her calendar. Option one is to say “We talked about this. I told you it’s at 4 today. It’s on your calendar. You need to remember to look at your calendar every day.” Responding in this way will probably cause stress and confusion. Option 2 is to say, “You want to know when your appointment is.” This lets you confirm what it is your loved one wants to know. Then continue by saying “Your appointment is today at 4.” Use a visual cue by holding up 4 fingers on your hand.
13. Dementia causes brain shrinkage from outside and inside. By the end of dementia brain is only 1/3 of original size.
14. 50% of people with dementia lack self-awareness about how much they can do on their own and how much they need help with.
15. Ability to hear sound is not affected by dementia. People with dementia may have trouble determining where the sound is coming from and can get overwhelmed by too much sound.
16. Vision field narrows. Decreased depth perception and peripheral vision.
17. It is important to allow them to remain as independent as possible.
18. Begins having difficulties with activities of daily living. Will need some assistance. Particularly with housekeeping and transportation early in the disease
19. Physical activity may improve cognitive thinking, physical fitness, and mood.
20. Stay focused on what remains and maximize on those skills they still have.
21. The brain is beginning to die. Brain shrinks from about 3 pounds down to one pound.
22. People with dementia keep their rhythm which includes things like poetry, music, prayer. They lose their ability to communicate, find their way in place and time, and control impulses.
23. They can engage in small talk but are not able to have in depth conversations. They lose vocabulary, comprehension, and speech production.
24. Words that should not be spoken in certain contexts are retained on the right side of the brain. People with dementia do not realize they shouldn’t say certain things. The right side of their brain processes curse words.
25. They keep center focus but lose peripheral vision. So, they lack safety awareness of their surrounding environment.