Dementia is a growing epidemic. It is now the seventh leading cause of death in the United States, and it is estimated that by 2050, there will be nearly 14 million Americans living with dementia.
We all know someone who is struggling with dementia, either as a patient or as a caregiver. And yet, many of us don't know how to understand the disease or how to respond to the growing population of people with dementia in our communities.
That's why it's so important for all of us to become dementia friends. Dementia friends are willing to learn about dementia and to offer support to people with dementia and their caregivers.
We can all become dementia friends. Visit dementiafriendsusa.org to learn more.
Here are some tips for interacting with someone with dementia:
Use simple language and avoid jargon. Use short sentences and simple language. Avoid using jargon or technical terms. Speak slowly and clearly. Don't shout.
Be patient and understanding. It may take the person with dementia longer to process information and respond.
Repeat yourself often. The person with dementia may need to hear something several times before they understand it. Be patient. It may take the person with dementia longer to process information and respond.
Encourage social interaction. This can help them to feel connected and valued.
Don't argue with them. If the person with dementia says something that is not true, don't argue with them. Simply acknowledge what they said and move on.
Don't remind them of things they've forgotten. This can be frustrating and upsetting for them.
Don't ask them difficult questions. Questions about the past or current events may be confusing or overwhelming for them.
Don't talk about them as if they're not there.
Don't expect them to act the same way they did before they had dementia. The disease can change a person's personality and behavior.
Use touch. Holding someone's hand or giving them a hug can be reassuring and comforting.
Be positive and upbeat. Your attitude can have a big impact on the person with dementia. Smile!
Be creative. There are many ways to connect with someone with dementia, even if they are no longer able to communicate verbally. Try playing games, singing songs, or doing art projects together.
Here is an example of how you can interact with someone with dementia:
You are at the grocery store, and you see a woman who is struggling to remember what she needs. You offer to help her find the items on her list.
You are at a coffee shop, and you see a man who is sitting by himself. You introduce yourself and strike up a conversation. You find out that he loves to play chess, so you challenge him to a game.
You are volunteering at a nursing home, and you are assigned to a resident with dementia. You spend time talking to her about her life and her family. You also help her to do activities that she enjoys, such as playing bingo or singing songs.
Your neighbor has dementia, and you see that she is struggling to keep up with her yard work. You offer to help her with her lawn mowing and weeding.
Your friend's mother has dementia, and she is no longer able to drive. You offer to take her to doctor's appointments and run errands for her.
We are all caregivers and friends of dementia. By learning about dementia and offering support, we can help create a more dementia-friendly world.
Remember, even small acts of kindness can make a big difference in the life of someone with dementia. By learning about the disease and offering your support, you can help create a more dementia-friendly world.