Why Do Dementia Patients Respond with “Fight or Flight?” #3

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

We have previously listed 9 methods of working with a dementia patient in a more productive manner. 1) Be at eye level 2) Keep smiling 3) Try to come alone 4) Environment should be quiet 5) Be respectful in your words 6) Distractions may help 7) Avoid complex direction or instructions 8) Sometimes a change in staff may help and 9) Use your hands or fingers to communicate.

Here are the remaining 6 methods that we hope will help.

  1. A gentle touch: You can try a gentle touch on the hands of the resident and if this seems to sooth the resident, gentle touches can be applied to the elbow, shoulder or upper back.
  2. Avoid surprises: Try to alert the resident by words or gestures what you want to do before you start on the task.
  3. A familiar location and association: If trying to perform dental care, put the toothbrush, etc. on a sink in front of the resident and this may invoke memories that help them understand what you want to do.
  4. Looking at themselves in a mirror: Have the resident look in a mirror with the caregiver standing behind them and have the resident perform the brushing task with support. It may be less threatening if the resident brushes his or her own teeth.
  5. Support rather than doing it for the resident: To the extent reasonable, have the resident perform as much of the task rather than trying to force the service upon him or her. If the resident feels they are in control, it can help reduce the fear.
  6. Way to go!!! We all love congratulations for a job well done and the resident may respond favorably when you give him or her verbal praise and encouragement for doing the task.

For each of you, we extend a warm “Way to go” for all you do for the residents!!!!

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