How do you keep a Dementia Patient Occupied?

Dementia Patient
Keeping a dementia patient occupied without upsetting him or her

Dementia is one of the most common symptoms of old age. It is also the most puzzling. There are obvious outward signs of dementia, but scientists do not yet know what is going on inside the brain or why. Depending on what caused Dementia there could be brain function degeneration or the patient may suffer from language or emotional problems. (

There are several types of dementia, in varying severity. The most common is the one that comes from the disease of Alzheimers. Alzheimers is most easily characterized by an inability to remember recent events ( Despite this, a patient may be able to tell you all about his or her childhood with marked clarity. Alzheimers takes up a majority of dementia patents diagnoses. It is common for senior citizens, for whom Alzheimers is prevalent, to believe they need to get up and go to work, even after years of retirement. In these cases, it is important to go through the motions of getting ready for work in order to assuage the patient's desire to move. Eventually, however, the patient will forget what he or she is doing and return to watching TV, eating breakfast, or reading the paper. In extreme cases it may be necessary to put the patient in the car and then sit with them. Tell them you are waiting on a phone call before you drive him to work. If this still seems to upset the patient, go for a drive until eventually suggesting lunch, or a movie. Then go home and return to your routine.

The second type is called vascular dementia which results from interrupted blood flow to the brain, often after a stroke or series of strokes ( This is categorized by an impaired judgment. The patient may not be able to make reasonable decisions, could turn argumentative, declining ability to pay attention and act in an otherwise unusual way in social situations. ( There is less forgetfulness in this type of dementia than Alzheimers, however there is a problem. Because of the stroke, or trauma to the brain, the patient's personality may be altered. He may become docile, child-like, or alternatively violent. It is important to deal with each patient in a calm and reassuring manner. For the docile, child-like patient, often providing companionship will reassure him or her that he or she is not alone. For the violent patient, it may become necessary to call relatives to come and reason with him or her, to provide a familiar face. If a patient becomes violent with you, you must leave the room and call the nurse. If you are a homecare provider, call your office and report the abuse. As a friend, family member, or caretaker, you are not at all deserving of any disrespect.

The third type is DLB, or Dementia with Lewy Bodies. Lewy bodies are clumps of protein in the brain that interfere the brain's normal functioning. The symptoms are often like Alzheimer's, yet include some traits of Parkinsons disease. These may be hallucinations, rigidity in body, and fitful sleeping patterns ( For overnight caretakers it is important to be close by when the patient wakes up, for reassurances and soothing motions.

The fourth type is arguably considered Parkinson's Dementia, which is often grouped with dementia because of the inevitable decline into senility that comes with the disease. Because doctors and scientists can be reasonably well assured that a Parkinson's patient will eventually exhibit signs of dementia, they can begin to treat the dementia at an earlier time and with better results. When a doctor can catch dementia early on, there is always the hope that the next new medicine will prolong the healthy stages of life and postpone dementia. Science and technology are not yet to that point, however it is likely that in the future we will be able to medicinally treat dementia with greater success than we currently have. Taking care of a Parkinson's patient in the grips of dementia is difficult. They need nurses to care for them physically, and caretakers to take care of them socially. Since caretakers often come and go, as that is the nature of their work, it is not possible to remain consistent with the patient's sessions. Therefore it is important to remain with the patient throughout the months for as long as possible. A familiar face, a common routine, all can lead to a greater peace of mind for the patient.

There is also a category for mixed dementia, where a patient demonstrates traits of more than one form of dementia. These are often difficult to pinpoint at first, as the nature of the categories is not absolute. Patients with mixed dementia may be forgetful, violent, and experience hallucinations, so dealing with them is tricky. First and foremost, a friend, family member, or caregiver must be patient. The dementia patient cannot help themselves, and will often become frustrated. This can be taxing for the friend, family member, or caregiver, and will often result in fewer visits and less attention paid to the patient.

Patients with dementia are often unreasonable. That is a fact. The frustrations they may feel with not knowing what to say, or how to say it, or how to get their point across, will transfer over into stress in the lives of those around them. When taking care of a dementia patient, it is important to remain calm, be reasonable, and allow the patient as much freedom as possible. If they are worried about money, give them a wallet with a dollar to keep nearby. If they are concerned about the neighbors, move their chair away from the window or close the blinds. Make sure your dementia patient feels as comfortable as possible at all times. It is really the least you can do to help them, but it counts the most.

There are around 800,000 people with dementia in the UK, and the disease costs the economy 23 billion a year. Source >>

Written By: REBECCA GOLDENBERG, United States

Useful books on Amazon

Creating Moments of Joy for the Person with Alzheimers or Dementia
Keeping Busy: A Handbook of Activities for Persons with Dementia
A Family Guide to Caring for People Who Have Alzheimer Disease, Related Dementias, and Memory Loss

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Edited by: Rajesh Bihani ( Find me on Google+ )

Disclaimer: The suggestions in the article(wherever applicable) are for informational purposes only. They are not intended as medical or any other type of advice