Tuesday Tips for Caregivers – How to Approach an Alzheimer’s Patient
When approaching a person with dementia, it is important to remember that they may be unaware of your intentions. They may show signs of fear, anger, or anxiety. These tips will help you to prepare just the right approach to decrease any of these emotions:
Approach: From the front, however, not directly in front of the patient as this may make them feel trapped or make the conversation feel confrontational. Their eyes must have an “exit” route in order to keep anxiety at a minimum. Approaching from the back will cause fear.
Speed: Approach the patient slowly, allowing them time to see that you are coming closer to them.
Voice: Call them by name. As their dementia declines, be sure to call them by their first name, as their last name may be easier to forget. Speak in a calm, assertive voice. Do not yell if they are hard of hearing, instead, speak in a deeper tone.
Stance: Crouch low, allowing them to judge the conversation. If you are hovering over top of them as they are sitting, they may feel threatened or as if they are being scolded like a child. Offer your hand to them. Their response to that gesture will let you know if they are willing to accept a hug. Touch is a very powerful tool with dementia patients.