5 Tips for Assisting Dementia Patients

My Divine Concierge offers some specialized services to seniors and clients suffering from dementia-related diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. For example, we can handle weekly grocery shopping and kitchen cleaning on behalf of clients unable to continue doing so for themselves.

These specialized services differ somewhat in one key regard: seniors and those suffering from dementia have a unique way of viewing the world around them. We have to be cognizant of that. We have to try to understand and empathize, and we always have to treat our clients with the utmost respect and compassion.

We are by no means psychiatrists, physicians, or senior living experts. But the My Divine Concierge staff has learned a lot about helping our elderly patients over the years. We can offer you a few helpful tips that we have gleaned from our experience. We are also here to come alongside and assist you if you need help caring for an elderly relative or dementia patient.

1. Be Flexible in Everything

We are afforded a certain amount of rigidity when working with most of our clients. That rigidity doesn’t work for some seniors and clients suffering from dementia. Thus, we have to be flexible. We have to be always cognizant of the fact that a client may have requested a job be done a certain way in the past but now wants it done in a completely different manner. That’s okay.

Dementia-related diseases are progressive diseases by nature. As such, the amount of flexibility you are going to need will increase over time. Be prepared for it.

2. Maintain Familiarity

Studies suggest that maintaining as much familiarity as possible may slow down the progression of dementia. And even in non-dementia cases, seniors seem to do better when their surroundings are familiar. Do your best to create and maintain a familiar environment and you’ll find your job a lot easier. If something must change, be careful to explain exactly what it is and why the change was necessary.

3. Pay Attention to the Details

We have found that paying close attention to details helps us to better understand the nuances of working with seniors and dementia patients. For example, the precision with which Mrs. Smith puts butter on her toast suggests that she might be very particular about most things in life. That tells us to be very careful to follow instructions to the letter. We do not want to throw Mrs. Smith off her game by doing something different.

4. Practice Circumspect Communications

Communicating can be more difficult as a person ages. The person you are attempting to assist may have trouble following when you’re speaking, for example. It may take that person longer to connect the dots in a conversation. Here’s the point: being circumspect in the way you communicate can alleviate some of the difficulty in this area.

Be thoughtful about the words and expressions you use. When answering questions, be short and concise. Avoid long-winded explanations that only seek to confuse. Most important of all, be cognizant of the tone of your voice and the expressions your face reveals. If your face and voice show exasperation, you could trigger anxiety and tension in the person you are attempting to assist.

5. Ask for Help

Caring for someone else is an exhausting task even when no health issues are in play. When that person is a senior or someone suffering from dementia, the task can be completely overwhelming. Admit that you cannot do this alone. And by the way, don’t feel bad about that. All of us are human beings with limits.

Swallow your pride and ask for help. Start with family members. If they are not available or refuse to help, turn to close friends. You can always contact My Divine Concierge as well. We would be more than happy to come alongside you to provide some of the services the person you are assisting can no longer handle.

At the end of the day, this form of special assistance requires a great deal of patience and compassion. It certainly is not easy. However, it is worth it when you consider some of the alternatives.

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