Why Do Dementia Patients Respond with “Fight or Flight?” #2

This is the second of three newsletters presenting methods of working with dementia residents in a potentially more productive manner.

As stated in our earlier newsletter on this subject: Certain parts of our brain protect us by responding immediately to dangers without thinking. Other parts of the brain evaluate the danger and then we decide on a course of conduct. With dementia residents, the evaluation part of the brain does not commonly work well, and they are just left with the immediate response without thinking.

We have previously listed 3 methods of working with a dementia resident in a more productive manner.
1) Be at eye level 2) Keep smiling and 3) Try to come alone.

Here are 6 additional methods:

  1. The preferred environment: Try to maintain a quiet environment so there are not confusing and competing sounds or loud noises.
  2. Communicate on a respectful level: Avoid “Baby talk” but speak respectfully in simple terms and sentences as “Baby talk” may be insulting and cause agitation which results in resistance.
  3. Distractions may help: Try different distracting events to see what will help. One resident may be distracted by a stuffed animal and another by gentle singing or humming. If one does not work, then you can try another.
  4. Avoid complex directions or instructions: It is best to slowly give simple directions or one step commands so the resident has the time and ability to process what is being said.
  5. Sometimes a change helps: If the resident is agitated, it may be necessary to let someone replace you and they might have better results.
  6. Use your hands or fingers to help communicate: Using simple hand gestures or pointing for things like direction may help the resident understand.

All of the Comprehensive Mobile Care associated Providers and their support staff understand these 15 methods and use them for better interaction with the dementia resident.

Brookdale Leadership in Aging Foundation, Rita A Jablonski PHD, CRNP et al