by Sherie L. Friedrich, PsyD
Our residents with dementia will require special attention during this difficult time as they are isolated from family and friends and experience disruption to daily routines. Changes in the environment can be incredibly stressful for individuals with cognitive deficits.
Here are some strategies to consider for providing support to your residents with a dementia diagnosis:
Creating memory “touchpoints” may help overcome the disconnection that residents diagnosed with dementia may experience when interacting with providers. This is especially important when once familiar caregivers now look physically different due to wearing appropriate PPE. Taking time to create small daily rituals that help define residents’ interactions may help combat feelings of isolation and disconnection.
These small rituals can help maintain a connection between resident and caregiver when our patients are most likely to feel isolated. Keep in mind that emotional and non-linguistic communication are often preserved with dementia, so residents are likely to interpret and respond to body language and tone correctly. Especially in times of stress, set the tone of the interaction by speaking slowly and calmly, maintaining an open and relaxed posture, smiling and showing kindness, and responding thoughtfully.