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5 Effective Ways to Distract a Senior Who Has Dementia

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The emotional outbursts your senior loved one with dementia displays can be upsetting for both of you. Seniors with dementia tend to act out when they want their caregivers’ attention or are feeling discomfort. You may also find there’s sometimes no obvious reason for your loved one’s challenging behavior. While you might feel like throwing your hands up in frustration, there’s a simple way to get your loved one’s behavior under control. Using the art of distraction is an effective strategy that can redirect your loved one’s attention to a new and acceptable activity.

1. Sing

Music is a healing activity you can use in a variety of situations. If your loved one is agitated, play a song that’s exciting enough to capture your loved one’s attention. Try singing one of your loved one’s classic favorites in a loud voice that can drown out any other noise. You can also get silly with it by singing slightly off-key or changing up a few of the lyrics. Whatever you do, try to make it catchy enough that your loved one starts singing along.

Dementia can be challenging for seniors to manage, but they can maintain a higher quality of life with the help of professional dementia care. Phoenix seniors can benefit greatly from the Cognitive Therapeutics Method (CTM), an activities-based program designed to promote cognitive health and delay the onset of dementia. CTM is included at no additional charge with any of the in-home care plans provided by Home Care Assistance.

2. Change the Lighting

Agitation may be the result of your loved one being upset by something in the environment. For instance, he or she may be bothered by a glare coming through a window. Your loved one might also be upset if a shadow is causing a hallucination, or he or she may just be mad that it’s too dark to see the puzzle he or she is working on. Try dimming or brightening the lights according to the situation. Just a simple change in the environment could cause your loved one to calm down.

3. Engage Your Loved One’s Sense of Humor

You loved one may also be trying to express a bad mood. You can get your loved one out of his or her funk by telling a silly joke. If you have an extra minute or two, take it a step further and show your loved one a funny video clip you find online. This strategy is so effective you might want to collect a small library of funny videos or jokes to share with your loved one. Once you get your parent laughing, you can easily transition to a new activity.

The cognitive challenges that accompany dementia often leave aging adults unable to manage everyday tasks, which puts their safety and health at risk. If your senior loved one has been diagnosed with a serious condition and needs help with tasks like meal prep, transportation, bathing, and grooming, reach out to Home Care Assistance, a leading provider of homecare families can trust. We also offer comprehensive care for seniors with dementia, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s.

4. Give Your Loved One a Job

Boredom is a common reason for challenging behaviors. If your loved one seems to be wanting your attention, try to find a job he or she can do alongside you. Your loved one might enjoy helping you wipe down the table before a meal, or he or she could match up socks while you do laundry.

5. Switch Gears

There may be times when it’s helpful to distract your loved one with a completely different activity. Try taking him or her outside for a walk if you’ve been stuck indoors all day. Your loved one may also need to do some stretches if he or she has been sitting for a while. Take note of what your loved one is doing and find a new activity that involves opposite actions.

Caring for a loved one with dementia is a challenging task for anyone. The responsibilities can sometimes feel overwhelming, but help is available. Seniors can face a variety of age-related challenges. Though some families choose to take on the caregiving duties, there may come a time when they need a trusted Phoenix elder care provider. Families sometimes need respite from their duties so they can focus on their other responsibilities, and some seniors need around-the-clock assistance that their families are not able to provide. Home Care Assistance is here to help. Call one of our dedicated Care Managers today at 602.388.1085 to learn about the high quality of our in-home dementia services.