Dementia Care


Q: Greetings Ms Regina, I don’t think my help is trained with working with people like my mom. My mom is bored. I find the complaints from the help that my mom doesn’t want to do anything very frustrating. I do not like having to switch caretakers. Is there any hope? Why do help think that all that is needed is bathing and feeding? I do not want a babysitter for my mom!!!

A: Your voice is shared by many and I thank you for sharing. It is unfortunate that this is the normal thought for caregiving and nurses. There is something to consider in defense of the caretaker. I have found that many caretakers are housekeepers for many years and then migrated into caretakers. If this is the case, please be kind to them as they were not hired for this intense change in work duties. You must be fair to them and talk to them about the changes and find out if they are willing to take on the challenges. It is common for them to say yes as they want to keep their job. Be upfront and tell them you do not want a babysitter for your mom or dad or loved one with dementia. Saint Lucia has not had support for this but there is now support so your housekeeper can get free online training to understand what is happening to your loved one. If you feel they need more training then proceed? Some carers are natural at learning the person that needs help and some need skill training. The Saint Lucia Alzheimer’s Association has information than will guide you and the carer.

Boredom for your mom may increase behaviors that are not favorable so I understand your concern. Here are a few tips that your care can try.. Please note that not all tips work for every person and that a simple “no” is not always a “no”. (it is no for that approach you just gave or tried) The skill is not giving up and looking at what you just did and evaluating it then trying a different approach for the same outcome you want or a completely different approach for a better outcome. No means no so try a different approach.

Doing things adds pleasure and meaning to our lives. People with dementia need to be active and enjoy things they do. However it is not easy for them to complete this. It may be that they have trouble deciding what to do each day; trouble starting the task or organizing the day. Note that it is not being lazy.

When planning activities take in consideration of what the person living with dementia has enjoyed in the past. Also, match the activity with what the person can do. Choose activities that can be fun for everyone and help the person get started. Decide if your mom or the person with dementia can do the activity alone or will need help. Monitor and see if the person is frustrated. Make sure the person feels successful and has fun. And the passive approach is to know when to allow someone to watch an activity. This in itself can be enjoyable to many. Watching is engaging. Often times after a few times watching the activity they may want to try it. Talking to them about the activity while they watch is a way of including and engaging them when they do not want hands on. Be creative. They may like what you are doing and can tell you what they like best with yes/no answer. Don’t be afraid to do an activity and they do not participate the way you felt they should. Look at other ways they can participate with something they have enjoyed in the past. If you want more ideas contact the Alzheimer’s Association to guide on more ideas like music, going out, gardening, spiritual activities and the list is endless.

An activity can be household chores and cooking as well. Keeping their day filled with things to do will give them meaning and purpose just as it does for you and me.

Remember that Alzheimer’s and related dementia’s do not take a person’s intelligence, just the ability to express it so do not treat them like children or diminish their feelings.

This topic of activates is becoming more in demand and caregivers need to learn how and develop skills to engage with the person they are caring for. It is not easy and will take work and practice.

QUOTE: “A friend hears the song in my heart and sings it to me when my memory fails.” Anonymous
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