5 Ways of Distracting a Senior Loved One Who Has Dementia

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Your senior loved one will most likely be emotionally balanced and socially adept during the earliest stages of dementia, but his or her personality is probably going to change as the disease progresses. There may come a point when your loved one becomes agitated or hostile at the drop of a hat, and you need to have multiple tools at your disposal to deescalate those situations. Here’s a look at five distraction techniques that may put your loved one at ease when he or she is being confrontational or combative.

1. Offer Favorite Treats

Sticking to a healthy diet is important for seniors with dementia, but the occasional treat probably won’t have a major impact on your loved one’s health. As soon as you notice your loved one’s demeanor has changed, you can immediately ask if he or she would like a few pieces of candy or a small bowl of ice cream. Don’t constantly use treats as a diversion, but it can be a good tactic when used occasionally. 

Symptoms such as agitation, confusion, anger, and frustration are common in elderly people with dementia. Dementia can be challenging for seniors to manage, but they can maintain a higher quality of life with the help of professional dementia care. Richmond seniors can benefit greatly from the Cognitive Therapeutics Method (CTM), an activities-based program designed to promote cognitive health and delay the onset of dementia. CTM is included at no additional charge with any of the in-home care plans provided by Home Care Assistance.

2. Ask Your Loved One to Hold on for a Moment

If your loved one wants something he or she can’t have, try asking him or her to wait a moment. When you completely refuse a request, it could result in a major episode, and you should try to avoid those situations as much as possible. Instead of refusing, ask your loved one to wait for five or ten minutes while you complete a task. Once those ten minutes are up, he or she may have moved on to another subject or task.

3. Ignore Your Loved One Entirely

Even though it might seem counterintuitive, ignoring your loved one for a few minutes may work in some situations. As long as you’re moving around and doing something physical, your loved one may continue to watch you while the anger fades away. That being said, you must never ignore your loved one if he or she is being physically threatening. In those situations, you’ll need to actively distract your loved one as much as possible until the episode has passed. 

The cognitive challenges that accompany dementia often leave aging adults unable to manage everyday tasks, which puts their safety and health at risk. If your senior loved one has been diagnosed with a serious condition and needs help with tasks like meal prep, transportation, bathing, and grooming, reach out to Home Care Assistance, a leading provider of home care families can trust. We also offer comprehensive care for seniors with dementia, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s.

4. Play Some Music

One of the most effective ways to divert the attention of a senior with dementia is to put on some music. While the music is playing, sing loudly and dance around the room. The commotion should distract your loved one and hopefully put him or her in a better mood. You can also put on your loved one’s favorite song or band and ask him or her to sing along or dance. Music can be a very powerful tool when used at the correct times.

5. Ask Your Loved One to Help You Out

Seniors with dementia often feel as if they aren’t contributing anything to their households, which can be very frustrating. Asking your loved one to help you out with a simple task should distract him or her and provide a sense of purpose. Once the task is completed, tell your loved one how helpful he or she was and offer sincere thanks. Even relatively simple chores such as folding laundry or putting away a few dishes should keep your loved one distracted for a few minutes.

Caring for a loved one with dementia is a challenging task for anyone. The responsibilities can sometimes feel overwhelming, but help is available. Seniors can face a variety of age-related challenges. Though some families choose to take on the caregiving duties, there may come a time when they need a trusted Richmond at-home care provider. Families sometimes need respite from their duties so they can focus on their other responsibilities, and some seniors need around-the-clock assistance that their families are not able to provide. Home Care Assistance is here to help. Schedule a free in-home consultation by giving us a call today at Richmond (804) 741-0009 or Williamsburg (757) 220-3151.