Dementia is a debilitating condition that leaves older adults confused and unable to do many things for themselves. Because seniors with dementia need so much help and aren’t able to communicate effectively, it can lead to family caregivers treating them like children. While they may have lost many of their abilities, people with dementia are still adults and should be treated with the same respect as before the disease. If you struggle with how to maintain the dignity of your aging relative with dementia, here are 5 tips to help you:
#1: Avoid Condescension
Try not to talk down to the older adult as though they were a child. Continue to talk to them in the same manner you did before they developed dementia. Pay attention to your tone of voice and the words you use. Avoid using the following words:
- Diaper: Instead, call them “underwear” or “undergarments.”
- Bib: Use the word “apron” instead.
- Potty: Refer to toileting as “using the bathroom.”
#2: Include Them
Often people talk about people with dementia instead of talking to them. Doctors, family members, and other people they come in contact with may not look them in the eyes or may talk to the people around the senior instead of to them. It’s natural for people to react that way because it can be hard to communicate with someone who has dementia. However, they can and should be included in conversations as much as possible.
#3: Refer to the Person Using Their Preferred Name or Title
If you always called the older adult “Mrs. Jones,” “Aunt Lila,” or “Grandma,” continue to do so. Don’t use their first name if you didn’t before the disease. Also, don’t use nicknames like “Sweetie” or “Honey” if that’s not the way you talked to them in the past.
#4: Protect Privacy
Although people with dementia need help with toileting and bathing, you should still keep those kinds of activities as private as possible. Close the bathroom door and help the person to stay as covered as possible, such as by draping a towel over them while they bathe.
#5: Respect Preferences
Remember the way your aging relative liked things before they became ill and communicate those preferences to others. If the person liked to dress a certain way, help them to continue to do so. Don’t change things just because it is easier for you or other caregivers. Also, continue to give the senior choices as often as possible, such as by allowing them to choose between two things to eat.
Home care providers are experienced in caring for older adults with dementia and understand the importance of preserving their dignity. Home care providers can keep your aging relative involved in daily life through activities and by helping them interact with others. Home care providers can also help keep the older adult clean and well-groomed, just as they once did for themselves.
If you or an aging loved one are considering home health care in Manchester, NJ, contact the caring staff at Care Street Home Care’s Ocean/Monmouth Division. Call today 732-719-7011.