Patients with dementia can be among the most difficult.
Even the best-intentioned person can get upset when the patients act out or refuse to cooperate. Keep in mind, the behaviors a person presents are parts of the sickness and not aimed at you personally. Stay calm and be understanding. Raising your voice or showing signs of sadness will only make the situation worse.
- Be flexible and patient. If the elderly patient refuses to get in the shower, maybe a bed bath will do the job. And he can shower tomorrow.
- Respond to patient requests as long as they are reasonable. If the patient insists on wearing her shirt backward, that may be ok for today.
- Don’t try or argue to convince the person. The patient cannot reason and may not be capable of knowing what is clear to you.
- Take a moment to re-charge. If you feel bad, make sure the patient is secure and walk away and take a few deep breaths before you return. It may be a needed break for the patient, too.
- Patients with dementia are at high risk for elder abuse, more than other seniors. Educate all members of the family regarding some of the symptoms and signs of potential abuse, and neglect.
- The patient presents fear towards their caregivers, once again just give her some space.
- Finding the patient wearing the same soiled clothes, or no food in the home or not remembering medications.
- Little or no food in the home or deficiency of describing medications
- Do not quickly jump to conclusions, but don’t be afraid to ask questions.
Caregiver burnout and distress is common in family members of a patient with dementia,
but don’t be afraid to ask for help. Other family members will be there to give support and relief when required. A social worker can often help. Dementia is often a misunderstood disease.
Communication between all family members can go a long way. The goal is giving the best care possible to the patient. Educate all family members regarding the challenges they may face. Let members know that the patient’s behavior may vary from one day to the next.
Providing care for an elderly patient with dementia can be hard and challenging at times. These patients need patience and understanding.