It is around 16h00 in our Home! And we all know, it is time!
We will not escape, not even one day. It is as if an alarm goes off in their brains!
They start to move!
They will be calm and peaceful the whole day, smiling and lovable, and will react to good music or laughter or kindness. But when the clock strikes 4!
The energy in the Home changes.
She walks up and down. She looks like a little bird in a cage, frightened, looking for a place to get out! It is as if she can’t hear anymore. The sound coming out of your mouth, doesn’t make sense to her, your familiar face of about an hour ago, with the cookie in your hand, is someone who frightens her, someone who might harm her! Her eyes are wild, her pupils black and so small!
I want to go home!
And in the other direction, the always humorous gentle man speeds up and down the garden following the foot paths, a man with a mission. Hanging on to anything he can lay his hands on, a leaf, a fork, a puzzle piece, anything… He has to go somewhere! Now!
No reasoning! No interfering!
And about an hour or two later…
The lovable lady sits down, exhausted. She smiles at me bringing her a warm cup of soup with no recollection of the anxious time spent.
The humorous gentle man is back again, laughing at my silliness… still hanging on to the crumbled leaf!
So what just happened?
We’ve all heard the saying; there’s no place like home. But just what can you do when a senior loved one constantly insists on going home; when he or she already is at home? Sadly, when caring for an elderly person with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of Dementia, this is not an uncommon experience. And many caregivers, whether trained or untrained, may not know exactly what the best way to handle these situations are.
At Jura Care Village, our trained Alzheimer’s and Dementia care team help family members handle complex situations such as this, and we encourage you to follow these steps and restore a sense of calm and safety to an unsettled senior with dementia:
- Rather than rationalize, validate: Reasoning, arguing or disagreeing with someone with Dementia can heighten their agitation and frustration. Even if the senior is in the exact same home he resided in for more than thirty years, in his mind, “home” could actually signify the comfort and safety he felt as a child living with his mom and dad. His feelings of loss are very real, and deserve to be acknowledged, not argued with. This feeling of loss and longing could be a vivid memory constantly returning to the person’s awareness, again and again. To tell this person they ARE home, is to invalidate what they are experiencing. Another example is to tell a senior who constantly refers to their parents and asks for them, that their parents are no longer alive, when these memories are the last remaining memories they may have, is cruel and unthoughtful.
- Provide comfort: Maintain a calm, soothing tone of voice and body language and stay next to the senior, sharing comfort with a hug, holding hands, or gently touching the person’s arm, if these approaches are helpful. If you as caregiver are not giving the senior love or treating them with love, then they won’t experience the safety they did when still children. Love is the most important ingredient when it comes to providing care.
- Finally, redirect: After you have provided a calming presence and affirmed the senior’s feelings, redirection to a pleasing, enjoyable activity can be helpful. Taking a stroll outdoors or in another area of the house, enjoying favorite music, or browsing through photo albums are just a few ideas; think about the individual and incorporate what best suits him. But remember not to be impatient when attempting to redirect the senior’s attention or they may experience hostility. Be patient and calm.
This is easier said than done! But you can try, and when you can’t anymore, try again! Because something that doesn’t work now may work within a few minutes, remember that.
Jura Care Village now also provides quality care for the elderly in the comfort of their own home. For more information: http://juracare.co.za/jura-home-care/