Seeing Dementia Differently

Understanding and changing the way you see dementia can go a long way towards making the moments shared with your loved ones rewarding and enjoyable. With a positive attitude, a trusty sense of humour and a read of this article, you can start doing just that.

When a person develops dementia, the first feelings to arise are often anxiety, emotional pain and fear. Fear that relatives will not be recognised by their loved ones. It is no doubt an emotionally traumatic experience but focusing on this fear and pain will not make dementia go away. As heart-breaking as it may be, the sooner we come to terms with the fact that dementia is here to stay, the better. Fighting it doesn’t make it any easier to cope with, but understanding dementia and changing the way you see it, will. In doing so, relatives and their loved ones can enjoy rewarding moments together despite dementia.

Be in the moment
Another way that dementia is often described is as ‘being in the moment’. For those with dementia, the only reality that exists is the one they are in. Correcting them about dates and people often causes further confusion and disorientation. Dementia is a journey involving a lot of time travel. But that doesn’t mean loved ones have to stay behind. In a sense, dementia could be likened to the DeLorean out of Back to the Future. Those with dementia are already in the car, but relatives can always jump in the passenger seat. A good way to ease stress on both sides is to explore reality with them. Wherever, or rather whenever, the individual is in time, that is the only time that’s relevant. If they’re somewhere in the 30s, be with them in the 30’s. Ask them what is it like there, who they’re with.

Relatives can also learn to be in the moment. It can be stressful worrying about what the future holds for a loved one with dementia. But shifting the focus away from stress and anxiety, and focusing on the present can allow quality time to be spent with them now.

How to reply to “I want to go home”
Don’t panic. Ask them a question. You could tell them that where they are now is their home. Or you could ask them where home is. It could be where they grew up or their first home as an adult. Ask more questions. Who do they live with? Difficulty often arises in trying to fight dementia, in desperately trying to keep loved ones in the now. Why not simply walk down memory lane with them?

Listen to body language
Conversations don’t always have to be verbal. We can all say a lot without opening our mouths and the same applies to those with dementia. They can tell others how they feel in multiple ways. Does their body language express pain, happiness, or are they uncomfortable? These little things mean the most. Relatives will also need to pay attention to their own body language and ensure this matches their tone of voice and what they are saying.

Consider the senses
Sensory activities are very important when it comes to engaging with dementia sufferers. Two senses to concentrate on are touch and sound. Keep in mind the emotional assurance that comes with simply holding someone’s hand. Sound and music can be very effective in creating a soothing and calm atmosphere. They can also trigger memories and allow for moments of reminiscence and clarity.

Lime Tree teaches tech-savvy residents to Skype!

First up to take on the Living our Values or LOV Challenge is Lime Tree House, our residential home in Ringmer. They decided to focus on our third value, attention. The box below tells you what this value means to us at Southcare Homes. So how did they do? Read on to find out.

The little things can go a long way, so we make every effort to meet the needs of our residents – no matter how small

Our more tech-savvy residents wanted a way to contact their relatives that couldn’t visit them as often as they would have liked to. Residents are free to use the phone at any time – some even having phones in their own rooms – but we know how important the little things are to our residents, so we went one step further and set up a resident’s computer with video-calling features – Skype!
As with all new things, the use of Skype will have it’s teething stage but all the staff are happy to help out and we’re encouraging our residents to use it as often as they wish and keep them and their relatives in touch.
It’s been great to get the ball rolling on the Living Our Values Challenge! This has really meant a lot to all of us at Lime Tree House.

What is the Living Our Values Challenge?
It’s where we practise what we preach. One of our homes highlights an instance where they turned one of our company values in an action to make a difference to our residents’ lives. Our five values are support, passion, attention, dedication & empathy.

NEW Vintage Cinema at Parkside Lodge

Parkside Lodge is abuzz with activity at the moment following the grand opening of their new 1930s-style cinema room!
The finishing touches were made and it opened it doors Friday 22nd February!
The grand opening was conducted by the Deputy Mayor of Worthing, Hazel Thorpe. Their new 1930’s-style cinema, was constructed especially at the request of residents. Almost two years after plans were made and funds were raised for the cinema room, it has now become a reality that all the residents are very excited about!
The maintenance manager, Paul Mann, has been working tirelessly to ensure our residents really feel like they’ve walked into the ‘30s as soon as they enter the room. And they certainly all felt that way on seeing the room for the first time, during the grand opening!
News of our new cinema room even spread to the papers, with an article all about the grand opening featuring in the Worthing Herald!
Now, all that’s left is to get the popcorn popping and decide which film to watch!

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