5 Gentle Ways to Distract an Aging Adult Who Has Dementia

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In addition to impairing memory, dementia can also cause behavioral problems, such as aggression, screaming, excessive crying, and wandering. If these behaviors aren’t effectively interrupted, your senior loved one may become a danger to him or herself and others. Here are some techniques for distracting seniors with dementia so they can refocus.

1. Use Humor

Telling a funny story or lighthearted joke is an excellent way to distract your loved one. Humorous anecdotes about friends and family can often defuse an unpleasant situation. In addition to telling stories and jokes, sharing a funny article or video with your parent can ease anxiety and tension so your loved one is able to focus better. 

Aging in place can present a few challenges for seniors living with dementia. However, they can still live independently at home with the help of professional dementia care. Sacramento families can rely on Home Care Assistance to provide their elderly loved ones with mental and social stimulation, timely medication reminders, assistance with meal prep, and much more. Our caregivers are available around the clock to help your loved one live a happier and healthier life.

2. Ask for Assistance

Like most of us, seniors with dementia want to feel useful and needed. Ask your loved one to help you with meal preparation, laundry, simple household chores, or composing a grocery list. Assisting you will refocus your loved one’s attention on the task at hand. Make sure the task you’re requesting help with is simple enough for your loved one to do independently. If the task is too complicated, he or she may become even more distracted.

3. Sing a Song

Singing favorite songs is a great way to distract seniors with dementia. When you sing or encourage your loved one to sing, it turns his or her attention to something you want him or her to focus on. Singing off-key or in a falsetto voice is even more effective when you’re trying to distract a person with dementia. If you don’t want to showcase your singing voice, play your loved one’s favorite music on the radio, a smartphone, or a laptop to distract your parent and ease his or her anxiety.

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

4. Offer a Snack

Seniors with dementia may become distracted because they’re hungry or thirsty. Offer your loved one a healthy snack and a drink to see if it helps him or her refocus. Don’t assume your loved one isn’t hungry or thirsty because he or she recently ate a meal. Dementia can change the appetite and alter the perception of hunger. After eating the snack, your loved one may feel more comfortable.

5. Offer Calm Guidance

If your loved one doesn’t respond to any of the above techniques, gently take his or her hand or arm and guide him or her away from the source of the negative behavior. Use a soft voice when speaking, and always maintain a calm demeanor. Gentle guidance is a very effective distraction technique, but use caution if your loved one is displaying negative behavior such as aggression. If your loved one is combative, simply ignore the behavior while still monitoring him or her from afar. Once your loved one realizes negative behaviors won’t generate a response from you, he or she may stop and refocus on something else. 

Caring for a loved one with dementia is a challenging task for anyone. The responsibilities can sometimes feel overwhelming, but help is available. Families looking for top-rated Sacramento homecare providers can reach out to Home Care Assistance. From respite care to specialized Alzheimer’s, dementia, stroke, and Parkinson’s care, there are many ways we can make life easier for seniors and their loved ones. If your loved one needs professional care, Home Care Assistance is here to help. Call one of our dedicated Care Managers today at 916.706.0169 to learn about the high quality of our in-home dementia care services.