Techniques to Distract an Elderly Loved One with Dementia

By Mark Schmidt, 9:00 am on June 10, 2019

If you’re caring for a senior loved one who has dementia, spend some time coming up with various ways to distract him or her. That skill set is going to be invaluable if your loved one becomes agitated, unruly, or threatening. Distractions could defuse the situation and give your loved one a chance to calm down. It might also give you time to figure out exactly what caused the outburst so you can avoid the trigger in the future. Here are a few dementia distraction techniques to consider.

Ask for Help

One of the best ways to distract a senior who is agitated is to ask for some type of assistance. You can easily invent a chore or task that needs to get done right away, and your loved one might enjoy the idea of being useful. Some tasks you can use as a distraction include finding a common item somewhere in the home, taking out the trash, or switching the laundry from the washer to the dryer. Even though the chore should be relatively easy, you should make sure it’s going to keep your loved one busy for at least five or ten minutes. 

Symptoms such as agitation, confusion, anger, and frustration are common in elderly people with dementia. Dementia can be challenging for seniors to manage, but they can maintain a higher quality of life with the help of professional dementia care. Tucson 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.

Put on Some Music

The best distractions are activities that stimulate multiple senses at the same time. If your loved one has favorite singers or bands, keep a few of their songs on your smartphone. When you turn the music on, you can ask your loved one to sing along or even dance around the room. Music is incredibly important, and it can have a huge impact on a senior’s demeanor.

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 home care families can trust. We also offer comprehensive care for seniors with dementia, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s.

Show a Funny Video

Humor is another powerful tool seniors with dementia can benefit from. As soon as you notice a sudden change in your loved one’s disposition, pull out your phone and show a funny video clip from YouTube or a similar streaming service. A simple clip filled with bright colors or cheerful music might be useful as well. To be able to defuse situations as quickly as possible, bookmark a few of your favorite videos so they can be pulled up right away.

Learn a New Skill Together

Studies have revealed that in addition to being a great way to distract your loved one, learning new skills can delay some of the worst symptoms of dementia. For mild dementia, try out relatively complex tasks, such as cooking a unique dish or trying out a new video game. As the disease progresses, you’ll probably need to switch over to simpler projects, such as painting or organizing groups of items by their colors. Scrapbooking is another stimulating and healthy pastime that’s perfect for older adults who have mild to moderate dementia.

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 Tucson 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 us today at (520) 276-6555 to learn about our high-quality in-home dementia care services.