Practical tips for treating patients who have dementia

Practical tips for treating patients who have dementia:

• always approach from the front or within their line of vision (no surprises)
• treat with respect – treat them as you would any one else
• if disorientated and anxious  reassurance
• make use of caregiver for history
• don’t rush – allow time
• keep sentences short and simple
• if possible keep consultations short, especially if restless
• put instructions in writing or clearly communicate to caregiver
• send appointment reminders
• respect patient’s autonomy
• familiar routines and calm environment can help reduce some difficult behaviours
• caregivers can use distraction and redirection techniques

Confused patients easily misinterpret information.
Eg forgetful patients may misplace objects and misinterpret this as theft

Arguing with patient  may precipitate an adverse reaction in the patient.

Practical tips if patient is suspicious or has a behavioural problem:
avoid an environment with a lot of sensory stimuli
take time to establish rapport (may be difficult if time is limited)
gaining trust is necessary
listen, even when speech is rambling or confused
confirm they understand what is being said
speak in a calm voice with normal tone
don’t be drawn into an argument – reassure instead
if behaviour becomes difficult, try to avoid physical contact
make use of a familiar caregiver in a familiar environment

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