Carla Cares: Carers Advice Column

Q: My mum has recently been diagnosed with dementia and I’m finding it difficult to know how to respond when she behaves out of character or says things that I know aren’t true. I was wondering if there is anything I can read or any training I could do that might help me learn how to deal with this?

Many carers find it difficult to know what to do when a loved one with dementia begins to act differently. We’ve put together some advice for communicating and where to find more information.

Try to make sure you’re being as clear as possible when speaking to someone with dementia.

  • Use names, i.e. saying ‘it’s me, Jane,’ rather than ‘it’s me.’
  • Speak in a warm tone and give them extra time to respond to you.
  • Try giving options instead of open questions, such as ‘would you like chicken or beef for dinner?’ rather than ‘what would you like for dinner?’
  • Use non-verbal cues like pictures and touch.
  • Don’t quibble over mistakes or even delusions the person might have, instead try deflecting to a new topic.

One of the best ways to learn how to respond is to attend a support group. These are a great opportunity to share experiences, gain support and find out how other carers cope in similar situations. We run a monthly Dementia Café which carers can attend, either with the person you care for or on your own.

The Alzheimer’s Society also run similar groups for carers in Saltford and Midsomer Norton. They can also give practical advice over the phone on dealing with changes in behaviour. You can get in touch with the BANES branch on 01225 396 678.

If you’re interested in training, RICE (The Research Institute for the Care of Older People) run Carers Courses throughout the year, specifically about dementia. These are usually held over four Friday afternoons and they cover a range of issues. To find out more you can contact RICE on 01225 476 420.

If you have access to the Internet there are lots of resources online which may also be helpful. Here’s some I’ve put together:

http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/dementia-guide/Pages/dementia-and-communication.aspx

https://www.unforgettable.org/blog/why-does-dementia-cause-out-of-character-behaviour/

https://www.unforgettable.org/blog/agitation-aggression-whats-causing-this-behaviour/

https://www.unforgettable.org/blog/dementia-and-embarrassing-behaviour-how-to-cope/

https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/info/20064/symptoms/87/behaviour_changes/2

If you would like any further advice, or for information about the Dementia Cafe, call our advice line weekdays from 10am to 1pm on 0800 0388 885.

Best of luck,

Carla | Carers Wellbeing Team