Tips For Interacting With Dementia Patients

At Champion Home Health Care of South Florida, we engage with dementia patients on a daily basis.  It is our distinct honor to help families in their times of need.  Having a loved one with dementia presents its own set of unique circumstances.  Our caregivers are specifically trained for the care of dementia patients.  We understand that communicating with a loved one with dementia presents unique challenges, as does daily living.  We thought it might be helpful to share some tips for interacting with your loved one with dementia.


You may already be aware of these tips, but you can always share them with other family members or friends of your loved one.  It is important to remember that the person you have always known and loved is still in there.  Just because they don’t remember your name or how you are related does not mean they don’t remember you in their heart.  As one dementia patient told one of her granddaughters, “I may not remember you here (pointing to her head), but I will always remember you here (pointing to her heart).”  Honestly, she couldn’t have described it better.


Another woman shared, “When I visited my grandma, she did not remember my name or how we were related, yet she said, “I was waiting for you! I was watching out the window.”  She did not know we were coming that day to visit, but that is what she always used to do (prior to dementia and Alzheimer’s) when she knew we were coming to town to see her.  She would watch for our car out her kitchen window. There was a part of her that was still able to make that connection of who we were.  It brought me joy when my husband pointed that out to me.  She really did carry us in her heart.”

Join the Conversation

When speaking with a loved one faced with memory issues, simply engage them in whatever stage they think they are in at that moment.  Your loved one may be talking about something in their childhood.  Ask questions and join in the conversation.  It may not even make a lot of sense to you, but they will feel good seeing that you are engaged in the conversation.  Much of what they share may be true memories from long ago that you never knew.  Consider it a glimpse into their past.  It can truly be a peek into your family history which is special.


Have Patience

Try not to become frustrated or angry with them.  It isn’t their fault that they are forgetful.  They cannot force themselves to remember something any more than you can force yourself to remember where your keys are when you have misplaced them.  This is good to keep in mind.  They may become frustrated or even scared.  Reassure them that it is ok.  Let them know you aren’t mad and that everyone forgets sometimes.  Help them to know they aren’t alone.


Consider What You Share

If your loved one has forgotten that someone has passed away (i.e. their spouse), you do NOT need to remind them even if they ask where the person is.  This can send a person into grieving as if the death just occurred even if it was years ago.  It is painful for your loved one.  Perhaps you can simply say, “That’s a good question.”  If possible, change the subject.


Take a Trip Down Memory Lane

Your loved one may enjoy looking at old photographs as that may largely be where they spend their time in their mind – in the past.  This is common.  Again, you may even find out things you didn’t know.  You may find out who someone is in a picture having always wondered who it was!  Think of it as a genealogy project which allows you to spend time with your loved one.


Dementia and other memory issues are not easy on anyone, particularly the patient.  We hope you found the above tips to be helpful.  If your loved one is in need of extra care due to memory issues, we hope that you will choose to call us at Champion Home Health Care.  We handpick each caregiver to match them to our clients in an attempt to make the best match possible.  We genuinely care about your loved one and hope to bring comfort to both you and them during a difficult stage of life with our senior helpers in Boca Raton. If you are searching for a great health care agency in the West Palm Beach area please call us today to see how we can help your family.  We look forward to working with you!

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