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6 Communication Mistakes to Avoid with an Older Adult Who Has Dementia

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Caring for a senior parent with dementia requires patience, commitment, and compassion. There are certain actions and communication mistakes you should avoid in order to alleviate your parent’s stress and enhance his or her wellbeing. Take a look at some of the things you should never say to a senior with dementia and why.

1. Don’t Offer Too Many Choices

Asking your parent what he or she wants to eat can be confusing. Due to decreased brain health, having too many choices could aggravate him or her. When it comes to giving options or instructions, limit what you present. For example, instead of asking what meat and side dishes your loved one wants for dinner, tell him or her what you’re preparing.

2. Don’t Silence Questions

It’s common for older adults with dementia to ask the same question repeatedly. Although you may find this irritating, you should continue to answer the question or find a positive way to change the subject. However, you should never stop your loved one from asking questions. When you try to silence your parent, you could harm his or her self-esteem or increase the risk of combative behavior. Instead, look for ways to help your loved one understand.

3. Never Force Your Parent to Remember

If you push your loved one to remember who you are, he or she could become overwhelmed and lash out verbally or physically. Instead of trying to force your parent to recall people, places, and objects, find ways to trigger his or her memory. For example, you can show him or her old family photos. Let your loved one remember voluntarily, as opposed to repeatedly asking who someone is.

A professional caregiver can provide regular cognitive stimulation that may slow the progress of your loved one’s dementia. Families looking for top-rated in-home care providers can reach out to Home Care Assistance. From respite care to specialized Alzheimer’s, dementia, stroke, and Parkinson’s care, there are many ways we can make life easier for seniors and their loved ones.

4. Refrain from Pointing Out Errors

Older adults living with dementia may make many mistakes, especially as the condition progresses and affects their cognitive skills and memory. Even when your loved one makes errors, don’t point them out. Instead, find a way to show your loved one how to do something correctly while praising him or her for the steps he or she got right. Focusing on mistakes could lower your loved one’s self-esteem and lead to poor mental health.

Caring for a senior loved one can be challenging for families who don’t have expertise or professional training in home care, but this challenge doesn’t have to be faced alone. Family caregivers can turn to West Hartford Home Care Assistance for the help they need. We provide high-quality live-in and respite care as well as comprehensive Alzheimer’s, dementia, stroke, and Parkinson’s care.

5. Don’t Say the Condition Is Getting Worse

You can help your loved one by being compassionate and offering words of encouragement. At no point should you tell your parent his or her condition is getting worse. Instead, provide reassurance and find ways to boost your loved one’s mental, physical, and emotional health.

6. Avoid Saying a Person Passed Away

As their memory decreases, seniors with dementia are unable to recall specific events, such as funerals. Your loved one may think about his or her deceased spouse or parents and ask you where these individuals are. Ideally, you should never tell your loved one someone has passed away because it could cause sadness and increase stress. Instead, say the person is gone but may come around later. In other instances, it may be necessary to change the subject entirely.

Even when families have the best intentions, caring for a senior loved one with dementia can be challenging. Fortunately, Home Care Assistance is here to help. We are a leading provider of dementia care. West Hartford families can take advantage of our flexible and customizable care plans, and our caregivers always stay up to date on the latest developments in senior care. If your loved one needs assistance with the challenges of aging, reach out to one of our knowledgeable, compassionate Care Managers today at (860) 372.4500.