Helping residents living with dementia make their own choices
Choice is very important in the daily lives of all of us. However, for those living with dementia, having their preferences heard can be more challenging.
As someone’s dementia progresses, their cognitive (mental) abilities will decline, which will impact their ability to make their own decisions. As a result, they will require tailored support to help them keep a sense of self and maintain their quality of life.
Prior to joining our Homes, we speak to our residents’ loved ones to find out as much as possible about their tastes and interests, which can help shape the person-centred care they receive. However, we all know that our preferences can change over time, so it’s also important to find ways to engage and communicate with residents to give them as much choice as possible. Here are some of the ways we achieve this:
- By observing what our residents do rather than what they say, we can gain a clearer idea of their likes and dislikes. For example, to find out what a resident would like to wear, two outfits are presented together for the resident to choose. If the person is unable to speak, physical behaviours such as reaching, touching, picking up the item and smiling are watched to find out the item they prefer.
- Our team try to explain things in a way that is easy to understand and use pictures to help residents choose the meals they would like to eat.
- We give residents the time to make decisions. We don’t rush them.
- We get to know our residents and when the best time of day to speak to them is. For example, many people living with dementia find it harder to concentrate later in the day.
- We give residents the space to make their own decisions with activities that foster creativity and individual decision making, such as artwork, cooking, gardening and interacting with our large display screens. Some residents even want to get involved with household chores such as cleaning, which we encourage in a safe way.
- We try to remove barriers to decision making by removing sources of potential frustration and introduce clear signage, wayfinding and the use of large clocks, which help orientate residents to a place and time.
How can families help:
Families can play a big part in helping us get to know residents by sharing their hobbies, favourite memories, photos and life achievements. It’s also important for families to have those early discussions with residents on their Alzheimer’s journey, helping them make their own advance decisions.
To find out more about our approach and how we can help a loved one living with dementia, contact our team here.