Avoid Yes/No Questions

Asking Yes/No questions with someone with Dementia can be frustrating for you and the PLWD (Person Living With Dementia). You rarely get the answer you want and many times the task at hand is not optional. For example, "Do you want to take your medicine, or Do you want to change your wet brief?"  PLWD frequently do not remember they are impaired. 

My mother, for example,  has needed help with toileting for several years and if I were to ask her if she needed help to the bathroom, she would immediately smile and say, "No, thank you. I can do that myself."  

Knowing this, asking anything that involves important tasks can lead to an unnecessary struggle because basic needs include eating, taking medicines, going to the bathroom etc. are vital to good care and not optional.  It's not fair to give them an option then force them to do something anyway.  There are better techniques to enable cooperation and avoid this kind of chaos.

One idea is to say "it is time to" get dressed and proceed with providing two options of shirts to wear. People need purpose and like to feel in control so please give options wherever reasonable.  Don't rush through a task and if the client needs to wait a minute, be sure to allow them the time to regroup.

Apologize often to keep the peace, even when you did nothing wrong. It's a brain disease and many things will not make sense, so we need to have reasonable expectations of the client's abilities.

Lastly,  let's make sure we as caregivers are still part of the solution with the task and not part of the problem. 

Teresa Youngstrom