How to Support Distressed Dementia Patients

The symptoms and behaviors associated with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease vary from one patient to the next, and even from one day to the next. The results can be upsetting for both the patient and those around him or her. As a carer, friend, or family member, you want to support this person and help them through difficult spells of distress, agitation, and confusion, but it can be difficult to know how to respond.

To help you become a better caregiver and to make your loved one feel better, here are some tips on how to react to distress and confusion in Alzheimer care.

Avoid confrontation

If your loved one becomes aggressive and argumentative, don’t try to argue back. This will only make the situation worse. Similarly, if they become confused or paranoid, it probably won’t be helpful if you try to correct them or reason with them. You don’t have to feed into their delusion by agreeing with them, but you can try to comfort them and listen to them.

Redirect their attention

Another alternative is to distract them or redirect their attention. If they become upset or confused, like asking to see someone who is no longer living, then try bringing up another topic of conversation that will grab their attention. If they like to garden, for example, then ask about a particular flower in their yard. Or you might try to introduce an activity, like baking together or doing a puzzle. These strategies should take their mind of the previous conversation without causing further distress.

Try to identify a cause

A bout of confusion might not always have a concrete cause. But, other times, you might be able to notice a pattern. Does your loved one often get confused in a certain room or at a certain time of day? Sometimes, you might be able to identify a cause that you can remove from the equation. They might get distressed if the house is to warm, if you’re in a busy or unfamiliar environment, or if loud music is playing in the background, for example. Or if it’s at a certain time of day, maybe they’re just tired and need to rest.

Use touch to comfort

This may not work with everyone, so assess the person and the situation to decide if it’s right. A comforting touch on the hand or shoulder can help to ground the person in that feeling, calming them and perhaps even bringing them back to reality during a bout of confusion.

These strategies can be used to make a dementia or Alzheimer’s patient feel safe and comforted. If you need additional help caring for a loved one, then contact us to learn more about assisted living care and memory care with Brookstone of Clemmons.