5 Tips for Nurses Caring for Dementia Patients

When caring for dementia patients, they can have serious health problems that are further complicated by a patient who doesn’t understand what’s happening to them. They have difficulty remembering things and can become agitated and confused. It helps to have good communication when caring for a person with dementia.

Positive Mood

Your mood directly translates to the patient. While you may think you’re being pleasant when you’re in a bad mood, the patient can feel your stress and negativity. It helps to have a positive mood around patients and make sure that you’re using a friendly tone and facial expression. Your patients will become less agitated if they don’t feel tension from you. The dementia patient won’t know that you’re not upset with him or her if you’re in a bad mood.

RecommendedTop RN to BSN Programs in Florida

State Clearly What’s Happening

Dementia patients like a set routine they can anticipate. Changes in their schedule and deviations from routine can confuse and irritate them. It’s best to let them know exactly what is happening at all times especially when it’s a change in their routine. When it’s time to eat dinner or take a shower, let them know at each step what is happening next, so they can anticipate. If you want the person to take medication or eat their dinner, you should state clearly why it’s vital for them to follow directions.

Redirect and Distract

When the dementia patient becomes agitated, frustrated or upset, it can be tough to keep them on task. If possible, it’s best to redirect the patient to another topic or activity to keep them from becoming too agitated. When you know the patient, you can begin to see when they are going to be upset over a certain topic, and you can avoid that topic or task before it becomes a problem. Distracting the patient before he or she becomes upset is the key. It can be harder to redirect when the person is already agitated.

Avoid Stress

People with dementia have a hard time perceiving the meaning behind your words or actions. It can lead to them questioning your motives or becoming nervous about your intentions. Unfortunately, it’s part of the mental decline of a person with dementia. The depth of the stress can be alleviated by helping the patient avoid stressful situations. Show patience, smile and eliminate extra noise and distractions.

Keep Tasks Simple

Whether it’s taking a shower or getting ready for dinner, break each activity down into individual steps to ensure that the patient can complete most of the tasks alone. When he or she has forgotten a step, a gentle reminder can help. This makes the activity manageable for the person with dementia and allows them to keep their independence as much as possible. Loss of independence is one of the hardest parts of getting older and being afflicted with dementia.

At times, it can be difficult to remember that you’re dealing with a patient who is easily frustrated. When you can keep a positive attitude while caring for dementia patients, break tasks down into manageable steps and distract the patient when he or she starts to become upset, you can alleviate many of the standard challenges associated with dementia patient care.