Design for Dementia Care

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Dementia Action Week - Start a conversation

This week is dementia awareness week and the theme is inclusion. So what better way to include someone than to talk to them? #AsUsAnything

However some people worry or struggle about how to include a person with dementia into a conversation or don’t know what to talk about.

So we have come up with a few different ways that could help both families and caregivers start a conversation.

Reminiscing about the past...

Create a Memory Box

Memory boxes are a great idea and have proven to be great ice-breakers, providing food for thought so that families can really enjoy their visit by reminiscing about the past with their loved one.

The boxes can be filled with memory-provoking items such as classic toys, wedding memorabilia, and photos, in fact, anything that can inspire conversation
Here is an example of how to use some of these items:

Look at photos
Personal photos are a great way to stimulate the mind and help trigger conversations. Try creating a photo timeline of family members, friends and places.

Books of interest
Find a book about interests that the person may have had in the past or better still use one of their books. For example if the person liked to cook bring along old cookbooks and talk about their favourite meal to cook. You could even make one of the recipes and bring it along with you.

The most important thing to remember when creating a memory box is that every item should be personal to the individual and guided by their interests and strongest, happiest memories.

The power of Music...

Listen to music or sing together
Music can help unlock memories and offer a channel of communication when others are challenged. So why not create a music playlist of favourite songs.

BBC Music Memories
The BBC has created a site specifically designed to help people with dementia reconnect with their memories. Click below to find out more https://musicmemories.bbcrewind.co.uk/

Talking about things in the present...

If someone is struggling to remember things in their past don’t give up, try talking about things in the present. For example if you are having lunch ask “Do you like your Lunch?” if you are sat next to the window comment and ask about the weather for example it’s a lovely day today isn’t it ?

Difficult conversations...

If a difficult conversation comes up remember minimising distress is essential. To find out more about this topic please visit: https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/get-support/daily-living/making-decisions-telling-truth

Remember don’t worry about long silences, be patient and give the person plenty of time to respond.

Further Reading:

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/feb/07/social-interaction-dementia-patients
https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/dementia/communication-and-dementia/

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