Topic: Family Life

Dementia Series: After the Diagnosis

In the second part in our Dementia webinar series, in partnership with our friends at Home Instead, we explore the next steps after a loved one is diagnosed with dementia. This includes:
1. Understanding their world
2. Behaviours that need to be managed
3. Techniques to help you cope
4. Taking care of yourself

Understanding their world

For someone with dementia, the person cannot choose how they perceive “reality”.
As a carer, you can enter and leave their reality at will – providing support and reassurance where required.

Behaviours that need to be managed

Some behaviours need to be managed and these include:
Ones that put you or your loved one’s physical and/or emotional wellbeing at risk
Early intervention avoids any challenges and issues so it’s important to manage behaviour as early as possible.

Physical harm

Your loved one may:
Restrict fluids
Refuse to take regular showers/baths
Refuse to take medication
Eat unhealthy food

Emotional harm

Your loved one may:
Feel embarrassed
Withdraw from social situations
Refuse to participate in activities

Techniques to help you cope

Simple Choices
Giving simple choices is a great way to help your loved one feel in control and also help them to be calm.
Apologise or take the blame for the situation
Even when it’s not your fault, an apology will sometimes end the problem
Try to use phrases like ‘I am sorry’ or ‘I must have misunderstood you’
Note: Use for minor issues (eg. in response to a complaint) not for major allegations (eg. theft)

Redirect

Try changing the topic or focus of the conversation or activity
Assess and change the mood from bad to good
Create a more positive and safe result
Remove items or change the environment
Your loved ones can become agitated or potentially aggressive because of something that is in or happening in their environment. For example, this may be a book out of place or perhaps a visit or someone in the garden.

Try at least three times, three different ways
Just because your technique didn’t work last time doesn’t mean it will work today. Similarily, just because it didn’t work last time doesn’t mean it will today.
Keep trying. You can’t fix it but you can always make it better than it is.

Take care of yourself

Taking care of yourself is just as important as taking care of your loved one.
Always practice good self-care
Sleep
Exercise
Nutrition
Stay connected to others
Friends
Spiritual / religious practices
Practice relaxation techniques
Breathing exercises / yoga
Stretching
Mediation