There is no one-size-fits-all approach to managing dementia, as the condition can vary greatly from person to person. However, there are a number of interventions that can provide positive effects in helping to manage the condition and help to improve the quality of life for those affected.
The most important thing to remember is that each person with dementia is an individual, and what works for one person may not work for another. It is important to tailor any interventions to the specific needs, cognitive function and abilities of the individual.
In this article , we will explore some of the different types of non-pharmacological interventions that family caregivers can use when caring for someone with dementia.
The aging of the U.S. population and the concurrent rise in the number of adults living with dementia underscore the urgent need for a systematic review of the available evidence for care interventionseffectivehealthcare.ahrq.gov
There are multiple types of dementia such as…
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Vascular dementia
- Lewy body dementia
- Frontotemporal dementia
Each type of dementia presents differently, and affects each individual in unique ways. Memory loss may be worse for some. Others may only show mild cognitive impairment.
The symptoms of cognitive decline will vary depending on multiple factors, including the type of dementia they are suffering from.
So, again, therapeutic interventions such as occupational therapy, cognitive rehabilitation, etc. must be tailored to that specific person.
Table of Contents
What Is Early Intervention For Dementia?
Early intervention for dementia care is a term used to describe a range of services and support that can be accessed by people who have early-stage dementia, as well as their families and carers.
The aim of early intervention is to delay the progression of dementia, maximize quality of life, and reduce the impact on caregivers. Early intervention can also help to prepare for future needs, such as residential care.
There are 5 things to know about early intervention for dementia:
- The first principle of early intervention for dementia is that each person should be treated as an individual. This means taking into account the person’s unique circumstances, preferences, and needs.
- The second principle is that early intervention should be tailored to the individual. This means that the intervention should be based on a thorough assessment of the person’s needs and goals.
- The third principle is that early intervention should be delivered in a way that is respectful of the person’s dignity and autonomy. This includes ensuring that the person has a say in how the intervention is delivered and what it involves.
- The fourth principle is that early intervention should be flexible. This means that it should be able to adapt to the changing needs of the person as their condition progresses.
- The fifth principle is that early intervention should be affordable. This means that it should be available to all those who need it, regardless of their financial circumstances.
All of these are most often initially conducted in a clinical setting such as Occupational Therapy or Cognitive Therapy. Family training is also a part of this process as well.
What Does Early Intervention Look Like?
Early intervention for dementia can take many different forms.
- It can involve providing support and information to the person with dementia, as well as their carers and family members.
- It can also involve providing practical help with daily activities such as shopping and cooking, or helping to organize social activities.
- It can include therapies and psychosocial interventions such as music therapy, reminiscence therapy, cognitive stimulation therapy, animal-assisted therapy and many more.
- It can also involve providing support to the person with dementia to help them maintain their independence for as long as possible. This might include helping them to find appropriate housing, or providing transport to and from appointments.
Any one or combination of these interventions can have a significant impact on the patient and/or the family (or not). That’s why it’s important to try multiple techniques.
Effective interventions can only provide beneficial effects if they are tailored to that individual.
It’s true that dementia symptoms are progressive and there currently is no cure. This puts even more emphasis on the importance of early interventions.
If you’ve recently been diagnosed with dementia, or are worried about someone close to you who might be showing signs of the condition, it’s important to seek professional help as soon as possible.
Earlier intervention means better planning. Instead of family members scrambling to come up with patchwork caregiving, early intervention gives a person with dementia the opportunity to take control. He or she can financially prepare so that services remain available and the quality of life is there.irisseniorliving.com
Believe me, intervention is not only for older people suffering with dementia. Early intervention can also help their family and caregivers.
When a person with dementia gets involved in a memory care program early on in their diagnosis, their caregiver gets access to the resources they need to manage the process — and the time they need to focus on it properly.fairfaxcounty.gov
Early intervention can make a big difference to the course of the condition and can help to delay the onset of more serious symptoms. It can also help to reduce the impact of the condition on the person’s life, and on the lives of those around them.
Please know that there are many clinical trials being conducted to find new therapeutic treatments for anyone with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. You can look for them by clicking here.
The more information that can be gathered for future research, the closer health professionals can get to finding an effective treatment and/or cure for this disease.
Why Is Early Detection Important For Dementia?
There are 5 reasons that I can think of on why early detection and/or diagnosis of dementia is so very important.
1. Early detection can help to delay the onset of more serious symptoms.
Detecting dementia early on can have a significant effect on delaying the onset of more serious symptoms. This is important because the earlier we can intervene, the better the chances are of slowing down the progression of the condition.
2. Early intervention can help to reduce the impact of the condition on the person’s life.
Getting a diagnosis of dementia can be very devastating. It can be a shock to receive the news and it can be hard to come to terms with what it means for the future.
However, intervening early on can help the patient and their family to come to grips with this illness and prepare.
3. Early diagnosis can help to improve quality of life for the person with dementia and their family.
Everyone wants a good quality of life and control over their life. And for someone with dementia, that means being able to do the things they enjoy for as long as possible. An early diagnosis can help make this happen.
It can give the person time to plan for the future and make decisions about their care. It can also help their family to understand the condition and how they can best support their loved one.
4. Early detection can help to reduce the financial burden on the person with dementia and their family.
Dementia is one of the most expensive diseases in the United States, increasing healthcare costs 3 times over those without dementia.lbda.org
An early diagnosis and intervention can help to prevent unnecessary testing and treatments. It can also help the patient and family to plan and prepare (financially and emotionally).
Getting in touch with a social worker and/or a geriatric care manager at this time can help to create appropriate care plans for a much smoother journey.
5. Early detection can help to raise awareness of the condition and improve understanding and support for those affected by it.
Dementia is still relatively unknown and misunderstood by the general public. An early diagnosis can help to increase understanding of the condition and its effects. This, in turn, can lead to better support by family and friends for those affected by dementia.
6. An early diagnosis may also help to rule out other causes of cognitive decline, such as depression, drug interactions, and thyroid problems.
It has certainly happened that a senior shows signs of dementia, is diagnosed, and then it turns out that the real problem was an un-diagnosed thyroid condition or something else. So, while an early diagnosis of dementia is not always 100% accurate, it can be helpful in many cases.
More than 50 conditions can cause or mimic the symptoms of dementia, and a small percentage of dementias are reversible. Two common examples are dementia caused by vitamin B12 deficiency or an underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism).helpguide.org
7. It’s important to note that there is no one “right” time to seek a diagnosis or start interventions.
Every situation is different. You know your loved one best, and you will have to decide what’s best for them, based on their individual needs and preferences.
What Strategies Should Be Used To Communicate With Seniors Who Have Dementia?
It can be difficult to communicate with a senior who has dementia, as the disease can cause changes in thinking and memory that can make it hard to hold a conversation.
However, there are some strategies that can be used to make communication easier.
- One important thing to remember is to be patient. It may take longer for a person with dementia to process information and respond to questions. It is also important to try to keep the conversation focused on one topic at a time.
- Be extremely specific by stating exactly the object, feeling, etc. that you are talking about and giving the exact location. (i.e., “Give me the spatula that is on the countertop.”
- Also, avoid using pronouns. So, even though you may be speaking about “John”, continue using the name “John” instead of “he” or “him”.
- It is also a good idea to provide visual cues, such as pointing to objects, to help the person with dementia follow the conversation.
- If the person with dementia becomes agitated or upset, stay calm and try to redirect the conversation to a more positive topic. It may also be helpful to offer a physical comforting, such as a hug or hand squeeze.
- Some studies have reported that after music therapy, the person with dementia is more receptive to communication.
Significant improvements in verbal fluency occurred after music therapy, with significant reductions in anxiety, depression, and apathy.National Library Of Medicine
In general, it is extremely helpful to be respectful and considerate when communicating with a person with dementia. With time and patience, however, it is often possible to maintain a meaningful connection with a loved one who has dementia.
Examples Of Effective Communication Strategies when talking to someone with dementia
It can be difficult to know how to communicate with someone who has dementia, as the condition can cause changes in the way they think, feel and behave.
In my experience as an Occupational Therapist, I learned some effective communication strategies that may help you to connect with your loved one.
1. Use simple language and short sentences.
When talking to someone with dementia, it is very important to use simple language and short sentences. This will help them to understand what you are saying and make it less likely that they will become confused or agitated.
2. Use exact terms instead of pronouns and slang terms.
Always avoid terms like “him” or “her”, etc. And stay away from terms that they did not grow up with.
3. Avoid asking questions which require a long answer.
Asking questions which require a long or complicated answer can be confusing for someone with dementia. Instead, try to ask closed questions which can be answered with a simple yes or no.
4. Give them time to answer.
Be patient and give the person with dementia time to answer your questions. They may need a few moments to think about what they want to say.
Don’t interrupt them with another statement, let them answer your question or comment before saying another word.
5. Repeat back what they have said.
Repeating back what the person with dementia has said can help to ensure that you have understood them correctly. It also shows that you are listening to them and are interested in what they have to say.
6. Speak slowly and clearly.
When communicating with someone who has dementia, it is important to speak slowly and clearly. This will give them time to process what you are saying and make it easier for them to understand you.
7. Keep your body language and facial expressions positive.
Your body language and facial expressions can be just as important as your words when talking to someone with dementia. Try to keep your body language open and positive, and make sure that your facial expressions reflect this.
This doesn’t mean that you should sit there and just smile the whole time. But it does mean that you should avoid looking worried or confused.
8. Avoid using jargon
Jargon is any language that is specific to a particular profession or group of people. It can be difficult for someone with dementia to understand jargon, so it is best to avoid using it when talking to them.
9. Use a calm and reassuring voice.
Your tone of voice is just as important as your words when speaking with someone with dementia. Try to use a calm and reassuring voice, without sounding too patronizing.
10. Avoid talking down to them or using baby talk.
It’s important to avoid talking down to someone with dementia or using baby talk. This can make them feel belittled and disrespected. Instead, try to speak to them as you would any other adult.
11. Avoid talking over them or finishing their sentences.
It can be easy to start talking over the person with dementia or finish their sentences for them, but it is important to avoid doing this. It shows that you are not really listening to them and can be frustrating for the person with dementia.
12. Try not to argue or correct them.
Arguing with someone with dementia will only upset them and make the situation more difficult. It’s important to avoid correcting them or trying to reason with them. Just go along with whatever they’re saying or doing.
13. Take a break if you need to.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, take a break from the conversation. You can excuse yourself to use the restroom or get something to drink. This will give you a chance to gather your thoughts and calm down.
How Do You Approach A Patient With Dementia?
The person with dementia may look as they always have, so it can be very easy to almost forget they are living with this terrible disease. But looks are of course, very deceiving.
Please understand that your loved one with dementia may not be able to process information in the same way as someone without the condition. This means that you will need to be patient and take your time when you are with them.
Also know that someone with dementia can easily become agitated or confused. So remember to remain calm and avoid raising your voice.
There are a few key things to keep in mind when approaching a person with dementia:
- Make sure you have their attention before starting to speak with them.
- Be aware of their body language and facial expressions.
- Respect their personal space and do not touch them without permission.
- Some seniors with dementia become paranoid and may think you are trying to hurt them. So avoid large crowds, noisy environments and arguing with them.
You may have to lie to them (aka Therapeutic Fibbing). For example, if they are asking for a family member who has passed away, you could say that person is running errands. This is done to prevent them from getting upset or agitated.
If they are afraid that someone is following them or stealing from them, you may have to tell them that you are adding security measures around the house to prevent that from happening.
If you take the time to communicate effectively with a person with dementia, you will be able to build a trusting relationship with them.
How Do You Approach An Aggressive Person With Dementia?
When a loved one is diagnosed with dementia, it can be a shock. Dementia is a progressive disease that causes changes in thinking, mood, and behavior. For some people, dementia can cause aggression.
If your loved one has dementia and is becoming aggressive, it’s important to try to understand the cause of the aggression.
Aggression can be caused by many things, including pain, fear, frustration, or even hunger. Once you understand the cause of the aggression, you can start to develop a plan to deal with it.
There are a few things you can do to help diffuse a situation when your loved one becomes aggressive:
- Try to stay calm yourself. Getting angry will only make the situation worse.
- Speak in a calm, soothing voice.
- Try to distract your loved one with a favorite activity or song.
- Avoid physical confrontations. If your loved one becomes violent, try to move away from them and get to a safe place.
If you’re having trouble dealing with your loved one’s aggression, don’t hesitate to reach out for help.
There are many resources available to caregivers of people with dementia, including support groups and counseling services. You don’t have to deal with this alone.
How Do You Treat An Elderly Person With Dementia?
We all know that as we age, our bodies change. We may not be able to do the things we could when we were younger, and our minds may not be as sharp as they once were.
Unfortunately, for some older adults, these changes can be much more pronounced, especially if they have been diagnosed with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.
If you have an elderly loved one who is starting to show signs of dementia, it is important to get them evaluated by a doctor. Once a diagnosis is made, there are a few things you can do to help them manage the condition and maintain their quality of life.
Here are a few tips for caring for an elderly person with dementia:
1. Be patient and understanding
Dementia can be frustrating for both the person suffering from it and their loved ones. It is important to be patient and understand that they are not trying to be difficult, they are just dealing with a very challenging condition.
2. Make sure they are getting enough sleep
Many people with dementia experience sleep problems, which can worsen symptoms. Make sure your loved one is getting enough rest by establishing a regular sleep schedule and keeping their bedroom dark and quiet.
3. Keep them active and engaged
It is important to begin or continue with physical exercise and activities. This can help slow the progression of the condition. There are many activities that can be enjoyed, such as walks, puzzles, and listening to music.
Exercise has emerged as a key intervention for influencing cognition positively, including reducing the risk of age-related cognitive decline and dementia.Practical Neurology
Although it can be very difficult at times, it’s very important to maintain social contact with your senior loved one.
4. Help them eat healthy meals
People with dementia often have difficulty eating and may lose interest in food. It is important to make sure they are getting the nutrients they need by preparing healthy meals and snacks that are easy to eat.
5. Encourage social interaction
Social interaction can be beneficial for people with dementia, as it can help reduce isolation and loneliness. There are many ways to encourage social interaction, such as joining a support group or taking part in activities together.
6. Help them stay active
Physical activity is important for people with dementia, as it can help improve their overall health and well-being. There are many ways to stay active, such as taking walks, doing light exercises, or participating in recreational activities.
7. Promote a sense of purpose
A sense of purpose can be beneficial for people with dementia, as it can help them feel more fulfilled and engaged in life. There are many ways to promote a sense of purpose, such as volunteering, participating in hobbies, or spending time with loved ones.
9. Respect their wishes
It’s important to respect the wishes of people with dementia, as they may have different needs and preferences than other people. Some things to consider include their preferred activities, communication style, and diet.
10. Seek professional help
If you’re struggling to care for someone with dementia, it’s important to seek professional help. There are many resources available, such as support groups, respite care, and counseling.
Caring for someone with dementia can be challenging, but it’s also rewarding. By following these tips, you can provide the best possible care for your loved one.
What Is The Best Thing To Do For Someone With Dementia?
There’s no easy answer to this question, as the best thing to do for someone with dementia will vary depending on the individual’s situation and needs. However, some general things that can help include:
- Providing support and reassurance
- Encouraging social and recreational activities
- Promoting independence and helping with activities of daily living
- Assisting with communication
- Managing challenging behaviors
Each person with dementia is unique, so it’s important to tailor your approach to their individual needs.
If you’re not sure what to do, don’t hesitate to ask for help from a professional or other caregivers. With patience and understanding, you can make a world of difference in the life of someone with dementia.
How Do You Comfort Someone With Dementia?
It can be difficult to comfort someone with dementia. The disease can cause confusion, agitation, and even aggression. But, there are some things you can try to help your loved one feel more comfortable and ease their anxiety.
- If they are aggravated about a certain activity, step in and break down that activity into smaller steps.
- Always use a calm voice and always reassure them that everything is going to be fine.
- Redirect them to another topic or activity that they enjoy.
- Get some exercise. Even a simple walk outdoors can help.
If you are struggling to cope with a loved one’s dementia, there is help available. Talk to your doctor about resources in your community or look for support groups online.
What Should You Not Say To Someone With Dementia?
When speaking with someone who is suffering from dementia, you want to avoid some types of phrases. These can be hurtful or confusing.
Here are some examples:
“You’re Forgetting Things.“
Dementia can cause people to forget things, but it remember that this is not intentional. Telling someone with dementia that they are forgetting things can be hurtful and make them feel embarrassed.
Instead, try to focus on the present moment and offer assistance if needed.
“You’re Different Now.“
Dementia can cause changes in a person’s personality and behavior. But the truth is that this person is still the same loved one, just with some different needs.
Telling someone with dementia that they are different can make them feel isolated and misunderstood. Instead, try to be accepting and understanding of these changes.
“I Told You Already!“
Patience is key when communicating with someone with dementia. It is common for them to repeat themselves or ask the same question multiple times.
Getting frustrated or raising your voice will only make the situation worse. Instead, calmly explain the situation again and try to redirect their attention if needed.
“It’s All in Your Head.“
Dementia is a real medical condition that should not be dismissed as “all in your head.” Telling someone with dementia that their symptoms are imaginary can invalidate their experiences and make them feel even more isolated.
If you having a difficult time accepting their diagnosis, it may be very helpful for you to seek out counseling to help you come out of denial and accept the situation.
“You’re Just Being Difficult.“
Dementia can cause changes in mood and behavior that can be challenging to deal with. Just remember that these changes are not intentional and should not be interpreted as such.
Instead of getting frustrated, try to remain calm and understanding. Let them know that you are there for them and offer help if needed.
“Just Relax/Calm Down.“
Telling someone with dementia to relax or calm down is rarely effective and can come across as dismissive or patronizing.
Instead of telling them what to do, try to engage in calming activities with them or provide support if they are feeling agitated.
“Do You Remember?“
Asking a person with dementia if they remember something can be frustrating for both parties. If the person does not remember, they may feel embarrassed or upset.
If they do remember, they may relive upsetting memories that they would prefer to forget.
Instead of asking questions about the past, try focusing on the present moment and shared experiences.
“You’re Just Imagining Things.“
Some seniors with dementia begin to hallucinate or have delusions. This is not uncommon.
Telling them that they are “just imagining things” can invalidate their experiences and make them feel like their condition is not real.
“You’re Making Me So Mad!“
Someone with dementia may act out in ways that are unusual or unexpected. Do not take their behavior personally and to avoid getting angry with them.
Instead, try to remain calm and understanding. This will help diffuses the situation and make it easier for both of you to cope.
“You Don’t Remember That?“
Asking someone with dementia if they remember something can be frustrating for both parties. The person with dementia may feel like they are being interrogated, while the other person may feel like they are not being listened to.
Instead of asking questions, try to make statements about the past that the person can either agree or disagree with. This will help to start a conversation without putting any pressure on the person with dementia.
“Just Ignore It.“
Telling someone with dementia to ignore their symptoms is not helpful and can actually make the situation worse. Dementia is a progressive condition, which means that it will continue to get worse over time.
Telling someone to ignore their symptoms is like telling them to ignore the progression of the disease. It’s important to be supportive and understanding, rather than dismissive.
“Just Try to Remember.“
Trying to force someone with dementia to remember something is often unsuccessful and can be frustrating for both parties.
Instead of trying to remind the person of something they may have forgotten, try to focus on the present moment. This can help to prevent frustration and anxiety.
“You’re Just Getting Old.“
Age is not a cause of dementia. While it is true that the risk of developing dementia increases with age, there are many other factors that can contribute to the condition. Dementia is not a normal part of aging, and suggesting otherwise can be hurtful and insensitive.
“Just Do What I Say.“
Trying to control or boss around someone with dementia will only lead to frustration and resistance. It is important to remember that people with dementia are still individuals with their own thoughts, feelings, and opinions.
Respecting their autonomy will go a long way in maintaining a positive relationship.
How Do You Cheer Up Someone With Dementia?
It can be difficult to see a loved one suffer from dementia, especially as the disease progresses and they become more forgetful and confused.
However, there are ways to bring moments of joy and happiness to someone living with dementia.
Here are a few ideas:
- Spend time talking with them discussing some of their favorite topics.
- Play cheerful music that they enjoy or used to enjoy. This can also help boost their mood and create a more positive environment.
- Encourage them to get involved in activities they enjoy or used to enjoy. Even if they can’t do the activity exactly as they used to, it can still be enjoyable and help them feel more fulfilled.
- Make sure to express your love and support for them often. This can be a source of comfort and reassurance during difficult times.
All of these interventions and methods will change as you or a senior loved one moves through from the early stages of dementia to the later stages of dementia.
Some Helpful Resources
Whether you are the person suffering with dementia, or a family member or a caregiver, know that there are many wonderful resources to help you through it.
- Support groups. In person and online.
- Support services such as the Alzheimer’s Association.
- Books I can recommend are:
Caring for a loved one with dementia is an extremely difficult task. Especially if you are their primary or direct caregiver.
But knowing how to communicate with them, how to treat them and how to just be with them can go a long way in helping to make time with them much more enjoyable.
I do hope that these interventions will help you and your loved one.