Should You Correct Someone With Dementia?

should you correct someone with dementia

When we communicate with persons with dementia, they may say something wrong or untrue and that’s when we start to wonder whether it is right to correct someone with dementia.

When speaking with a person with the illness, it is IMPORTANT to understand that the disease affects how an individual communicates because it causes the brain to malfunction.

Should I correct my grandparent with dementia?

This implies that if a person is saying something that is not true, they may not be doing it on purpose because it is the illness “speaking.”

The reality of persons with dementia may be different from your reality.

This simply means that THEY BELIEVE what they are saying because that’s what their brain is telling them.

Confabulation

While trying to interact with those around them, persons with dementia normally experience confabulation.

We can describe this as memory distortion where individuals express false information to others.

2 Reasons for confabulation

Should You Correct Someone With Dementia?
There are two primary reasons confabulation may occur and these are:

1. The details were not encoded properly in the brain.

Some distractions may occur while the details were being processed preventing them from being completely or correctly inputted into the brain’s memory.

2. Over-Learned details may be more dominant.

For instance, interesting stories, well-known facts, or typical life habits may rise to the forefront in an individual’s mind.

This ends up pushing out other specific facts. This may cause a person to lean more on inaccuracies instead of the truth.

The main reason memory and encoding are impaired in dementia are that the disease affects the hippocampus area in the brain.

This is the section that is responsible for encoding and memory.

To answer the query on whether it is right to correct someone with dementia: It is not.

Most of the time, it is better to be kind rather than be right.

People with the illness are already going through so much because of all the changes happening in their brain; hence, need a break once in a while.

Correcting a person with the illness may only lead to arguments that can agitate a person resulting in more behavioral problems.

It’s better to be kind rather than right

Trying to use reason and logic to try and explain why the affected person is wrong is likely to cause defensiveness, confusion, anger, agitation, or acting out with challenging behavior.

Going along with what a person is saying may work best.

Agreeing with persons who have dementia will not do any harm and it will make them feel happier and calmer.

But then the question comes, “Do you tell a person with dementia the truth?”

It is important to know that you should not lie to them with some exceptions where white lies are necessary.

For the most part, it’s better to stay on their side, following a person’s REALITY, which can be referred to as therapeutic fibbing.

This is all about agreeing or saying some things that are not true to avoid causing people with dementia distress.

It also makes them feel comforted and safe.

Closing Remarks

Communicating with a person who has dementia may be quite challenging at times especially if they are not making sense of whatever they are saying. It is clear that, should you correct someone with dementia, it will cause confusion and upset.

Although it may be tempting to correct someone with dementia, do not fall into this temptation.

Instead, try and meet the affected person where they are always practicing understanding, patience, kindness, and love during conversations.

How Do You Make A Dementia Patient Happy?

how do you make a dementia patient happy

Getting a positive dementia diagnosis can take a toll on a person which is why it is important for caregivers to identify ways to make a dementia patient happy.

Dementia describes a group of symptoms that are associated with a progressive decline of abilities of the brain.

The illness negatively affects many aspects of a person’s life including intellect, memory, insight, language, and social skills amongst others.

Different Activities to Cheer Up Someone with Dementia

To help persons with the disease cope with the changes that are happening in their lives, there are several tips you can work with to MAKE THEM HAPPY such as:

Including them in Social Activities

identify ways to make a dementia patient happy
One of the ways to make a dementia patient happy is to identify ways in which they can have fun.

This includes planning creative activities, games, and social activities that they can enjoy.

When picking an activity, it is important to ensure that it is something that the person with dementia likes and can comfortably do.

Focus on feeling good now

Keep in mind that the idea is to have a good time without putting any pressure on the ill person.

Additionally, the chosen activity must not be too HARD or too SIMPLE.

If a person forgets the rules or makes mistakes when playing games, the carer should just let them be.

Most importantly, do not insist that the individual takes part in activities that they are not interested in.

The activities should only take place if a person is showing interest and enjoying them. Some activities to consider include:

  • Simple games such as staking colored rings
  • Painting and using crayons
  • Playing games like snakes and ladders, and Ludo
  • Antakshari

When it comes to social outings, a person with dementia may enjoy exposure to a new environment from what they are used to.

Caregivers must be very selective with the outings to avoid overstimulation, crowds, noise pollution, and constant movement.

Maintaining Strong Relationships

maintaining strong relationships
Many people with dementia will experience loneliness and social withdrawal which can make them sad.

To make them happy, their loved ones need to try and maintain STRONG BONDS so that they can feel like they belong even with everything that is happening in their lives.

This includes planning to spend quality time with the person who has dementia.

If a person still lives at home, their loved ones should visit as often as they can.

It is advisable for relatives and friends to liaise with the primary caregivers on the activities to take part in that will bring joy and laugher to the affected individuals.

Family members and friend should not forget them

At some point in the disease, a person who has dementia may have to move to a care facility.

Family members should not forget them in these new living spaces.

They should organize visits so that they can spend time with the suffering person at the facility. It helps a person feel loved and supported.

Relatives and friends should also familiarize themselves with the disease and know the changes to expect from the person in the various stages of the illness.

This gives loved ones a chance to act appropriately when they are around individuals with the disease to offer much-needed support rather than stressing them out.

During the visits, relatives and friends can bring along children, pets, photographs, letters, videos, or other items that are bound to create a pleasant experience for the individual.

Maximizing Comfort

maximizing comfort
Another suggestion on how to make a dementia patient happy is by making sure that they are as comfortable as possible at all times.

This includes ensuring that a person is not suffering from pain that may be causing a lot of discomforts.

There are times when a person with dementia CANNOT communicate properly to let caregivers know that they are in pain.

Are they in pain?

It is, therefore, the responsibility of the carers to keep an eye on them to know if anything has changed.

It is also important for the weak person to visit a doctor often.

The professionals can tell if they are having any medical conditions or pain they can treat or manage to increase the comfort levels of the person with dementia.

Maximizing comfort also has a lot to do with making sure that the areas where a person sleeps and spends most of their days are safe and comfortable.

Remove anything that can cause the person to trip and fall.

The spaces should also be kept neat and uncluttered.

Some home renovations like installing handrails in the shower may also be a welcome change.

Installation of alarms and heat sensors may enhance safety in case of emergencies.

Staying Physically Active

staying physically active
Encouraging a person with dementia to stay physically active is another step towards making a dementia patient happy.

Working out results in improved circulation, endurance, strength, and cardiovascular fitness.

Additional BENEFITS of exercise include:

  • Better sleep
  • Improved mood
  • Decreased likelihood of constipation
  • Reducing the risk of falls because of enhanced balance and strength
  • Maintenance of motor skills
  • Better memory
  • Reduced rate of mental decline associated with dementia
  • Improved social and communication skills
  • Getting a sense of accomplishment
  • Improved behavior like reduced swearing, acting aggressively, and wandering

Working out also prompts the body to RELEASE ENDORPHINS that are known to trigger positive feelings in the body.

Exercise does not have to be strenuous but something fun and enjoyable.

It can be as simple as taking a walk, engaging in sit-to-stand exercises, dancing, yoga, stretching, or light household chores depending on a person’s ability.

Effective Communication

effective communication
Over time, dementia will affect the way a person communicates.

Caregivers should therefore learn how to communicate effectively with a ill person as one of the ways to make a dementia patient happy.

Being Rude, Condescending, or Aggressive will just not cut it.

This can make the person with the illness feel like they are being talked down to something that can bring up unwarranted behavior or responses.

It is best to speak slowly and clearly using short sentences. The tone used should always be calm, friendly, and positive.

Remember to give the affected individual enough time to respond.

Making EYE CONTACT when speaking can also be helpful.

Avoid creating complicated choices because persons with dementia respond to simple options.

Other ways of communication can also help when dealing with an individual with the progressive illness.

These include a gentle reassuring touch, gestures, facial expressions, and movement that can convey a message.

Closing Thoughts

When trying to figure out ways to make a dementia patient happy, it is IMPORTANT to understand that the disease does not everyone in the same manner.

This means that what makes a person happy may not work for the next.

Caregivers should therefore get to know the person they are working with to come up with the best plans that will keep them happy and safe as they move from one stage of the illness to the next.

Do Dementia Patients Know What They Are Saying?

do dementia patients know what they are saying

Communicating with a person who has dementia may be confusing and challenging at times leading to the question: do dementia patients know what they are saying?

Most of the time especially in the later stages of the disease, they may not know what they are saying.

This is because communication becomes more difficult for persons with dementia as the illness progresses.

After all, it affects sections of the brain that are responsible for controlling memory and language.

As dementia continues to destroy brain cells, most people experience a symptom referred to as aphasia.

This can be described as losing the ability to speak as well as understand speech.

Several factors may affect an individual’s ability to communicate “normally” such as:

  • Memory Loss: inability to remember events that have happened or topics to discuss
  • Challenges finding the right words or phrases to say
  • Difficulties understanding language
  • Sight or hearing impairment
  • Distractions; for instance, being distracted by the environment or finding it hard to concentrate on a single topic
  • Hallucinations

Coping with Communication Challenges

do people with alzheimer's know what they are saying
In regards to the query do patients with dementia know what they are saying, it is important to learn some communication strategies to adapt when communicating with individuals who seem not to know what they are saying.

This is because persons with dementia are bound to have communication hiccups which can lead to multiple misunderstandings.

For instance, a person can point to a computer and call it a picture or say that they want to eat worms referring to their favorite food only that they cannot voice out the proper words.

Some of the ways to deal with communication issues include:

Speaking the First Language

speaking the first language
Many people with dementia usually go back to their first language as they lose their ability of speech.

If a person grew up speaking a certain language, get ready to speak the language at some point.

Minimize Distractions

When talking to a person with the progressive illness, try and create a calm and quiet environment.

It is best to sit face-to-face with the person you are talking to.

Minimize distractions like noise from the TV or radio or any sights that may be causing distractions.

Sing Along

Most individuals with dementia will remember songs because melodies and music are stored in the parts of the brain that the disease does not affect.

do dementia patients like to sing

Singing, thus, is one of the ways to connect with the affected individuals. An alternative to singing is just relaxing and listening to the person’s favorite tunes.

The Right Approach

People with dementia generally do not like surprises. If they do not see other people coming, it might elicit aggression or anxiety.

It is, therefore, advisable to always approach them from the front which gives the affected person time to process an individual’s arrival.

It is also recommended that a person identifies themselves before engaging in conversation.

This is done to create awareness and attention reminding the affected person of who their loved ones are.

Have a Caring Attitude

when seeking answers to the query do patients with dementia know what they are saying it is vital to understand that individuals retain their emotions and feelings even when they do not understand what is being said.

For this reason, it is crucial to always maintain the self-esteem and dignity of persons with dementia when talking to them.

Allow plenty of time for responses and remain flexible. Avoid arguing or becoming controlling even when the person with the illness is in the wrong.

Communicating without Words

At times, words are not sufficient when communicating with a person who has dementia.

Body language, touch, hand gestures, eye contact, and facial expressions are other communication options available when words are not enough.

do dementia patients know what they are saying

For instance, when asking a person what they want to eat, pointing to the refrigerator can help reinforce the message.

Nodding the head indicates a person agrees while shaking the head shows an individual is not in agreement.

A hug or warm smile can also convey the message you want to pass across strongly.

Remember to only use touch when it is appropriate to grab the person’s attention while communicating affection and warmth.

Understanding the Disease Makes People Say Harmful Things

It is common for persons with the disease to use hurtful words, make mean comments, or accuse their loved ones of terrible untrue things.

While it may be devastating to hear such things, it is important to remember that the affected individual is not saying these bad things on purpose but it is the disease that is causing them to say such things.

Closing Remarks

When a person with dementia loses their ability to communicate it can be hard and frustrating not only to the affected individual but their families, friends, and carers as well.

When this happens, it is important for loved ones are carers to change the way they communicate with the affected person.

Keep in mind that communication is made up of three parts:

1. 55% Body Language: This is the message that people send with their gestures, facial expression, and posture.
2. 38%: It represents the pitch and tone of the voice.
3. 7%: these are the words people use.

The statistics above show the importance of how carers and families should present themselves with people who have dementia.

It is easy for people with dementia to pick up negative body language like raised eyebrows and sighs.

Why Do Dementia Patients Stop Talking?

why do dementia patients stop talking

Many persons with dementia develop communication challenges where some even stop speaking leading to the question of why do dementia patients stop talking.

Below, we are going to explore several reasons that may cause a person with dementia to stop speaking.

Why do dementia patients lose the ability to speak?

Brain Damage

brain damage
One of the top answers to the query why do dementia patients stop talking is because of the damage the disease causes to their brains.

The illness slowly damages the areas of the brain that are responsible for speech and comprehension resulting in a symptom known as aphasia.

When a person is first diagnosed with the illness, they may be communicating well.

From here individuals may start experiencing some communication challenges mostly because they have difficulties remembering things.

After some time, they will completely lose the ability to talk.

At this point, therapies aimed at enhancing communication become futile. This mostly happens in the later stages of illness where dementia affects almost all aspects of a person’s life.

This renders the suffering individual dependent on all activities, and their willingness or ability to talk reduces among other severe changes.

Frustrations

why do dementia patients stop talking
Another reason persons with dementia may stop speaking is that they are frustrated with not being understood by the individual they are communicating with.

They can reach a stage where they keep repeating the same sounds, words, or phrases; thus other people will not understand the message they are trying to pass across.

Numerous studies done by linguists focusing on the language of individuals with dementia reveal that the affected individuals may be communicating about the reality from their past world but are not able to use “dictionary words” which results in misunderstandings.

Communication challenges can make a person feel discouraged and just not try and talk to other individuals.

Social Withdrawal

social withdrawal
Social withdrawal may be another answer to why do dementia patients stop talking.

Many people with the neurodegenerative disease find their current world filled with loneliness, pain, noise, and confusion.

The affected individuals may also be dealing with an array of emotions from fear, anger, or sadness, etc.

They, therefore, find comfort in solitude as they retreat to a world that they once lived in. Here they can relive happier moments when the disease was not taking a toll on them.

Lack of Engagement

lack of engagement
At times, a person with dementia may stop talking because of a lack of engagement.

They may opt to keep to themselves because they feel bored or isolated.

This is why you will find that some persons with the disease will spend a lot of time alone.

Even when they are in the company of others, they may remain mum because not much conversation may be going on.

Some people with dementia will find it difficult to start a conversation; thus opt to stop speaking especially when other people do not put in the effort to engage with them.

Hearing Loss

hearing loss
A high percentage of people who have dementia will end up suffering from hearing loss. This makes it one of the answers to why do dementia patients stop talking.

When individuals with dementia lose their ability to hear, it will most likely be associated with communication problems that can result in a person not talking because they cannot hear properly.

Closing Thoughts

Sadly, when a person with dementia stops talking especially because of excessive damage to the brain, it may be an indication that they are living their last days on earth.

Caregivers may want to consider hospice care at this point to ensure that the affected persons remain as comfortable as possible until they breathe their last breath.

Dementia and Communication With a Patient

dementia and communication

When it comes to dementia and communication, caregivers and loved ones must acknowledge the fact that persons who have dementia may experience various challenges as they try to communicate.

While ill persons experience the progression of the disease differently, there are some common challenges that most people with dementia face, such as:

  • Repeating stories
  • Disorganized speech
  • Inventing new words
  • Leaning more to the use of native language, etc.

As time goes by, it may become more complicated to communicate with a person who has the disease.

This does not mean that you should write them off and never speak or listen to them again.

There are several strategies you can employ to communicate effectively with a person who has dementia.

1. Effective Strategies for Dementia and Communication

1. Get the Person’s Attention

get the persons attention
It is crucial to start by getting the attention of the person you intend to speak to.

You can do this by approaching the person with the illness from the front to help them see you. It is also advisable to reduce any background noise that may be coming from the radio, TV, crying babies, etc.

Always identify yourself and address them by their names. It may help to repeat the name of the affected person a couple of times during the conversation.

Remember to keep expressions friendly. Keep in mind that the person with dementia wants undivided attention. Always show that you are willing to listen and comprehend what they are saying.

Practice patience when dealing with dementia and communications because the persons need some time to concentrate, understand, and come up with a response.

You may also want to meet the other needs of the suffering person first before you sit down and start having a conversation. This way, the person will not be hungry, thirsty, in pain, or uncomfortable when it is time to start talking.

2. Go Beyond Words

go beyond words
This is extremely important, especially during the later stages of the disease, when a person with the illness cannot express themselves properly.

Using hand gestures, eye contact, body language, touch, and facial expressions may come in handy when trying to communicate with a person who has dementia.

Examples of such are nodding your head for yes and shaking your head if you want to say no. You can do this even when voicing out the words as a reinforcement measure.

If it is possible to say something without letting it out, opt for this route.

Experts agree that a hug or warm smile may convey the message strongly so that you do not have to use actual words.

Remember that it is okay not to know what to say. Honest friendships and presence are the most valuable. Remember to stay close to the person you are talking to but not too close in a way that you are interfering with their personal space.

Your facial expressions and body language should always match what you are saying. This is because people with dementia are good at reading body language.

Tense facial expressions or sudden movements can make communication difficult as this may cause distress to the ailing individual.

3. Learn How to Speak

learn how to speak
When facing dementia and communication issues, it is crucial to check how you speak. Always approach an affected person with a calm and clear tone.

You may want to peak at a slightly slower pace. This will give the person you are conversing with time to process the information you are trying to pass across.

Do not raise your voice or speak sharply. You should also avoid asking too many questions at once because this may lead to confusion and frustration.

Respect the person you are having a conversation with so that you are not talking down at them. You should also talk to them like grownups and do not address them like young kids.

4. Use Simple Language

use simple language
When you are talking to a person who has dementia, it is not the time to showcase your prowess of complicated words.

It is advisable always to use simple, short and familiar words during conversations.

For instance, instead of saying hypertension, you can use the phrase high blood pressure.

Positive language is also crucial during the trying times of handling dementia and communication issues. Try and use short sentences that do not exceed five words so that you can convey one thought or message at a time.

If you are trying to give off directions, opt for one-step instructions. For example, let’s go for a walk, kindly lean this way, and lift your arm.

Always identify things and individuals by name avoiding the use of pronouns.

Rather than telling a person what not to do, it is better to suggest what they should do. This way, they will not feel as though you are trying to attack them because of their current situation.

5. Adapt To Changes

adapt to changes
As time goes by, you may find that it becomes harder to deal with the problems that arise due to dementia and communication.

The person you are trying to talk to may start to misunderstand you constantly.

At this point, it is advisable to rephrase as an alternative to repeating what you have just said.

Adapt to the suffering person doing your best to understand their unique gestures and words. Redirect, or distract the person when they are facing stressful situations so that they can fast forget what is stressing them.

Always encourage the person with dementia to express their thoughts even when they find it increasingly difficult.

Do not, in any way, criticize, interrupt, argue or correct the person you are having a conversation with.

Adapting also means that you should make the most of the “good” days and try to cope during the “bad” ones.

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