How do you “redirect” a dementia patient who wants to “go home” or speak to someone who is no longer alive? How do you respond to a loved one who is living in a reality which isn’t yours? Here are a few tips that I posted yesterday on Defeat Dementia, a Facebook group which provides information and support to caregivers of dementia patients:
• Don’t worry about convincing her that her loved one has already passed away, but to pay attention to the emotion she is expressing.
• Sometimes it is helpful to encourage the patient to talk about her loved one. Try questions like “what did you do with your (mom) when you were little?”, “What do you want to say to your (mom)?”
• Perhaps having a photo of her loved one available that you can look at together, ask her to tell a story about her loved one, might be strategies that would satisfy her.
• If necessary, some caregivers have tried a white lie, like “Your (mother) lives someplace else now.” or “I can’t take you there today. Maybe tomorrow.”
• It’s helpful to try to stay in the patient’s reality, and the death of her loved one is no longer a part of her reality, so saying her (mother) is dead only confuses her.
Source: UCSF Memory and Aging Center