Now that the holidays are here, there is no reason to leave our family members out of the celebration because they have dementia.
The Alzheimer’s Association has the following ideas for taking a loved to a social outing.
Tips for going out in public:
Coping with Alzheimer’s disease is challenging for everyone involved. Difficult or unusual behaviors can be hard to explain to strangers. Sadly, embarrassment and stigma prevent many from going out and enjoying the activities they used to. But there are little things you can do to increase understanding and enable yourselves to enjoy getting out of the house.
People with Alzheimer’s disease slowly become less self-aware and less inhibited. They are unable to remember social norms or how they are expected to behave in certain situations. This can lead to strange or irrational behaviors. Additionally, people with dementia may not have the mental reserve to cope with stress in a socially appropriate fashion. They may not be able to express their needs, and then become agitated and irritable.
Understanding and being open about your loved one’s condition is key to successful outings. The Cleveland Area Chapter provides small cards for caregivers that can help them in awkward situations. If a person with dementia is displaying unusual behavior at a restaurant, for example, their caregiver hands them this small card that says “My companion has memory loss. Thank you for your patience.” Often, that is all that is needed to avoid an uncomfortable situation for all.
The card has also helped individuals in airport situations. “One family was having difficulty getting the person with the disease to take off their shoes, belt, etc.,” said Doreen Kearney, a Care Consultant with the Alzheimer’s Association. “The card was very helpful to them in getting through the security line.”
Some other tips for handling behaviors in public include:
- Distraction. Change the activity or redirect their attention.
- Ignore minor behaviors when possible. It may be more upsetting for all to confront the behavior.
- Control the environment. Take note of certain places or things that trigger behaviors and avoid them.
- Understand that they are coping with diminishing communications skills and may not have the ability to express themselves. Try to get to the root of their present need and decipher the behavior.
- Do not try to correct or convince the person that their behavior is unacceptable. They may no longer be able to follow the logic or reasoning behind social nuances.
If you would like us to send you these “Companion Cards,” please call us at 800.272.3900.