With dementia care, you are trying to help the person maintain as much as possible for as long as possible. But sometimes things don’t always work out the way you expect them to.
Case Number One
A male resident who lived on a secure floor slipped out of bed one morning. The staff hastened to help him up and he responded by punching the male staff member in the face.
Why would he do that when they were just trying to help?
When you are working with someone with dementia, movements that are too quick can be interpreted as aggressive. Their brains take a longer time to process information, so you can’t assume that moving quickly to help will be interpreted that way.
In this case, he was scared and his work background as a police officer made him wary of people putting their hands on him. So he lashed out.
Case Number Two
Another male resident was coming out of his room and his walker caught on the door frame.
He was in the process of moving the walker, albeit very slowly, when a personal aid worker stepped in to move the walker. He responded with curses.
Why would he do that when the personal aid worker was just trying to help?
Moving too quickly to help can be interpreted as a diminishment of the individual’s dignity. In this case, the man very much liked to do things at his own pace. He didn’t like to be rushed and he was competent at completing tasks. Taking that away from him made him feel less adult. So he got angry.
Doing Too Much
One of the risks of dementia care is trying to do too much for the individual for a variety of reasons.
We may feel they are going too slowly and we want to hurry them along.
Or that they can’t do the thing they want to do, so we step in without asking if they need help.
We may just want to help and naturally step forward like we would for anyone we saw struggling.
But what we end up doing is disabling them further and reducing their dignity. We need to step back and give them time to process and react.
This can be very hard to do when your job is to care. But caring doesn’t always mean doing for the other person. In fact, if they can do something for themselves, we need to have the patience to let them work it out on their own time — and at their own speed.
Do you need help in the area of Dementia Care? Check out this available resource: Fit Minds Family Caregiver Program
Nicole has trained hundreds of professional and family caregivers who have touched the lives of thousands of individuals living with a cognitive impairment. Nicole also holds a law degree from Osgoode Hall Law School, a Master’s in Law from Queen’s University specializing in Negotiations and is a Certified Professional Consultant on Aging.