If the person you care for is living with Alzheimer’s or dementia, it is important to support their emotional needs. There are many ways to accomplish this, such as reminiscing about something personal and positive, through hands-on activities or communicated through body language and tone of voice. This is about different ways to show your loved one that you love them, that you are glad you are together and that they are safe.
In the past, most of Alzheimer’s and dementia care has been focused on managing the physical needs of the disease such as managing medications, bathing and eating, while paying less attention to the emotional needs of the person being cared for. A lack of emotional attention can make a person more introverted, withdrawn and even increase anxiety and negative behavior.
Here are a few ways you can engage with your love one which focus on their emotional needs.
- Don’t ignore ~ Communicate and Engage. Your loved one is still here even if they aren’t communicating well, they can still understand what is happening around them. A person with Alzheimer’s/dementia know when they are being ignored, which can cause them to become even more withdrawn. Involve them in conversation by engaging them in the correct manner. Speak slowly and patiently.
- Focus on their feelings. Certain emotions are attached to different memories. Even if your loved one forgets something, they still know the feeling of that recollection. The result is that even if your loved one forgets a conversation they had with you, there is still a benefit to them. Subconsciously a person with Alzheimer’s/dementia may remember and feel the positive attitude from talking to you even though it is a forgotten experience. Your loved on may not remember the name of a familiar relative in an old photo, but they may still smile when they see that face.
- Remember what your loved one can still do rather than focusing on what they can no longer accomplish. While they may be losing their ability to remember or manage everyday tasks, the ability to experience emptions will always be part of them. Focusing on fulfilling the emotional needs of a love one can be beneficial in bringing about positive outcomes for them and a satisfying relationship for both of you.
- Allow your loved one to make small decisions, even though they may struggle with tasks. Someone with dementia may not be able to do certain things alone, but allowing them to make little decisions will help their self-esteem. The simple task of picking out their own clothes, or what type of vegetable they want for dinner, can make a world of difference.
- Tell your loved one that you love them and remember to show them too. When words fail, touch, eye contact and facial expressions can convey that you care and that they are loved by you.
If you would like more information on how to best support your loved ones emotional needs, call us at (561) 585-0400