Dementia Couch Conversations: Engagement in the home for people with dementia.
March 16, 2020Uncategorized
Hey guys! My name is Mikki Firor. I am the President of Trovato Dementia Services. I’m also a gerontologist and dementia consultant. I’ve been getting a lot of questions about activities to do with somebody who has dementia in the home now that we are practicing social distancing. So, I have five tips that I want to give you guys to keep somebody with dementia safe in the home while also keeping them engaged.
The first tip is gonna have to do with hand-washing. This is something that is recommended and they recommend doing it for 20 second. A lot of people say sing “happy birthday” or sing the “ABCs.” Well, I suggest turning that into a way of engaging with the person who has dementia. So, find a song they really really like. And Guess what! It can be more than 20 seconds and instead of singing that song a capella, put it on an audio player. You can use your Bluetooth, you can just use your phone (you put your phone in a cup and it kind of lets the sound get a little bit louder so that can be a really good thing to do if you don’t have speakers), and use the actual song.
The other thing is safety and cleanliness. You need to keep the home clean. Especially if you have other people coming in and out, it’s just a good thing to keep in mind but you also want to make sure that it’s safe. So, make sure that products that are used for cleaning, if they’re toxic to a person if it’s ingested, then you want to make sure that they’re out of reach. I had a client who did not heed this warning a few years ago and her husband actually did end up ingesting hand soap. So, switch it out for non-toxic products if you can, but if not keep them in a safe place so that the person with dementia does not confuse it with something else.
Engagement with a purpose
When you are picking things for somebody with dementia to do, make sure that you’re practicing the rule of “engagement with a purpose.” In order to do this, you can ask yourself a few questions:
1. What kinds of things gave that person purpose in different stages of their life previously?
2. What kinds of things gives that person purpose now at the stage of life that they’re
currently in? And
3. What kinds of things give you purpose?
It’s likely that you’re gonna be working with them and doing it with them so maybe it’s something that gives you purpose and that makes them feel good as well. This can also just help you kind of generate some ideas.
Attention span or energy level
The fourth thing I want to tell you about is attention span or energy level. A lot of people are on this “go go go go go let’s keep them as active as possible” but just like anybody else, somebody with dementia may get burned out, they may get tired, and it’s okay to take a rest or to watch a little bit of TV and chill out for a bit. So, just keep that in mind. It’s totally normal. And their attention span may not be as long as we’re expecting so you may hope that one of these activities you come up with is going to last 30 minutes to an hour when, in reality only, is something that they enjoy doing for five minutes. And that’s okay! Just keep that in mind and go with it.
Finally, the final tip I have is just be patient be patient with yourself be patient with the person with dementia. You’re going through trial and error and you’re gonna try a lot of different engagement practices and you might try five and none of them work and you might be getting frustrated and feeling depleted but that sixth try
could be the one so be patient with yourself. I’m a dementia consultant and I even have to exercise trial and error on a regular basis. You’re doing a great job! Just be patient. We’re all gonna get through this.
We can help!
And if you want some extra brainstorming and you would like it to be more personalized but you would really like the help of the dementia consultant, Trovato is here to help! You can give us a call at 443-510-1169 and set up your
remote assessment and solution planning. Or, you can email us at info@TrovatoLLC.com.
We’re really excited to help you and I hope that these tips were also helpful. Hang in there, guys!