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Caring for a person with dementia or confusion

Caring for a person with dementia or confusion: Top 10 tips

  1. Invite main carer to complete the ‘Understanding Who I Am’ form. Ask the family member/carer who knows the person best to do this. Use the form to get to know the person. Make environment familiar (photos, pictures, personal objects).
  2. Make sure they are eating and drinking well. Ask to speak to the catering supervisor to pre-order meals and beverages through the menu system. Refer to OT for equipment and Speech Therapist for communication assessment. 
  3. About 90% of communication is non-verbal. Think carefully about your body language, facial expression and eye contact. Speak calmly and distinctly. Use simple words.
  4. Promote good sleep pattern. Ask about referral to complimentary therapies to help. Repeat reassurance, introducing yourself, who you are and why you are there.  
  5. Ask radiotherapy for a regular slot, same time each day. Tell them about the person’s needs. Can someone go with them? Ask x-ray department for double slot if needed.
  6. Just one person talking and guiding when performing care in pairs (e.g. personal care). Repeat reassurance during the activity. Give simple instruction; use plain language, one step at a time. Respect their space.
  7. “Challenging behaviour” can mean that a person is trying to communicate feelings, needs or wishes. Try to work out what the person needs. Respond to emotions not just words. Has the person become unwell or are they in pain? Ask Doctor to assess for delirium (acute confusional state). Treat delirium as an urgent matter.
  8. Find out if a volunteer is able to help with companionship. Make sure a clock and calendar are in easy view. 
  9. Check communication aids are in working order and used
  10. Involve the family in the care of the person with dementia- they will want to be involved and help you learn what works best.

For more advice, support and equipment please refer to Michele Pengelly or Leigh Porter

Velindre Cancer Centre, Velindre Road, Whitchurch, Cardiff, CF14 2TL
Tel: 029 2061 5888