Responding to Dementia Confusion: Should I Play Along?

Dementia confusion, a typical occurrence in Alzheimer’s, can lead to recent memories being forgotten about or distorted, while memories from the more distant past usually stay unaffected. This can cause past events to make more sense to a senior with dementia than the present. A person’s alternate reality can be the senior’s way of making sense of the present through past experience.

Seniors with Alzheimer’s disease often have problems expressing themselves, and at times their alternate reality has more to do with a physical requirement or a distinct feeling they want to express rather than the actual words they are saying.

For example:

  • “I need to deliver all these casseroles to the neighbors before the end of the day.” Though these casseroles do not exist, the words could actually represent a need for meaning in everyday life or wanting to be involved in an activity. A suitable response to find out more could be, “Why did you make casseroles for our neighbors?”
  • “When will my wife be coming home?” This question may be more about a need for affection or acceptance or a home-cooked meal than it could be about wishing to see his wife, who passed away many years ago. An appropriate reaction to uncover more might be, “Why would you like to see her?”

Keeping a diary of these kinds of events can help you notice a pattern in the older person’s dementia confusion. The more you listen in and pay close attention, the easier it will become to understand the thinking behind the alternate reality and the ideal way to react.

Is It Alright to Play Along?

As long as the scenario isn’t going to be unsafe or improper, it is perfectly fine to play along with the senior’s alternate reality. Doing so won’t make the dementia worse. Keep in mind, the senior’s reality is true to him/her and playing along can make your loved one feel more comfortable.

If the situation is inappropriate or may possibly cause harm to the older adult, try to respond to the perceived need while redirecting him/her to something safer or more appropriate.

Bear in mind these 3 actions:

  1. Reassure the older adult.
  2. React to his/her need.
  3. Redirect if required.

Also, call on the caregiving team at Endeavor In-Home Care, providing senior home care in Phoenix and the surrounding areas, including specialized dementia care. Our caregivers are on hand to provide compassionate, professional respite care services for family care providers who could use some time to rest and recharge. Contact us any time to learn more at 480-498-2324.

Anosognosia – Why Is My Parent Denying a Dementia Diagnosis?

Dementia can have many side effects,including anosognosia.

“How on earth could you think that I have dementia? There is not a single thing wrong with me!”

If a senior loved one with a dementia diagnosis communicates feelings like this, you may think to yourself that the senior is essentially in denial and reluctant to admit to such a concerning diagnosis. Yet there could be a different reason: anosognosia, or someone’s actual unawareness that he or she is affected by dementia. Read more