Understanding Dementia Care
When caring for someone with dementia, it is important to remember that they are still a valuable and unique person, despite now having this illness. Finding that their mental ability is declining can often leave a person feeling vulnerable and alone. Support and reassurance from the people closest to them will help them to retain their sense of identity and self-worth.
A person with dementia needs to feel that they are respected and valued as much now as when they were in the past. There are several ways that people around them can help, including taking time to listen and have regular chats, showing affection and finding things to do together. As a care home specialising in supporting those people suffering with dementia, our staff are specifically trained to connect with residents and make their ongoing life as regular and engaging as possible.
A person’s cultural or religious values and backgrounds are explained to all of our dementia care home staff and carers. These rules, customs or values may include: what they can eat, clothing or jewellery that should or should not be worn and any forms of touch or gestures that are considered disrespectful. They make conscious efforts to behave accordingly.
Living with dementia can cause a person to have a fragile sense of self-worth; therefore it is particularly important that people continue to be courteous towards them, regardless of how advanced their dementia is. Ways of ensuring this include: being kind but not talking down to them, avoid criticising them and trying to imagine how you would like to be spoken to in their position.
Small actions will help a person to feel that their right to privacy is being respected. For example, care home staff should knock on a person’s door before entering their room and assist with intimate personal activities, such as washing, very sensitively and protect their privacy by keeping the door closed.
Help with Expressing Feelings
It is important to remember that although a person’s thinking and reasoning ability has been affected, their feelings still remain intact. Care staff must make a conscious effort to offer them support and listen to residents to understand how they are feeling. A person with dementia must also be kept aware of what a carer is doing and why, when it comes to their care. As well as this, questions could be phrased to gain a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer rather than a question that involves lots of choice to avoid confusion.
As much as possible, carers should be informed by a person’s family about their background and any other information about their situation. This can help carers to form a relationship with the person and not to see them as ‘someone with dementia’. Conversation topics may also be easier and, as a result, make the person with dementia feel more comfortable when being cared for.