Wednesday Workshop – A Lesson in Redirection for Alzheimer’s Caregivers
Hello and welcome to today’s Wednesday Workshop. Today will be talking about strategies for redirection. If you’re a family member or a friend caring for someone who has dementia, then you may have encountered moments when your loved one was either aggressive, angry, or anxious. Handling these situations can feel very uncertain and unmanageable. When caring for someone with dementia you will inevitably encounter moments when your loved one is extremely worried, hostile, or uncooperative.
The best technique to make these situations better is to redirect their attention to something else like a new activity or another though process.
So, how can we do this?
Before we divert their attention, we must do two things: acknowledge their current emotions and reassure them that things will be alright. As a caregiver, you must try to be as calm as possible and make sure your tone is friendly. Then try to recognize what is bothering your loved one and tell them that you are going to try and help. Often those with dementia may experience aggravation or anxiety that is based on delusional experiences. Even if the facts surrounding their experiences are not true, their experiences are real and deserve recognition. After you acknowledge what the problem is and reassure them that you will try to help, then you can try redirecting them.
Here are some strategies:
- Remove your loved one from the room or environment where they first became uncomfortable. Many times there can be something in the surrounding environment that triggers a negative response in your loved one. Try suggesting to them that you need help with dishes in the kitchen or that you need them to help you with making the bed. After a few minutes they may be able to enter the previous environment again and be calmer.
- If you do not quite know what is bothering your loved one, but you already reassured them that you are trying to solve their problem, then divert their thoughts. Ask them if they want to eat some food or drink some tea. You can even think of other questions to ask if you know your loved one will respond to them favorably.
- Try improvising off of what your loved one is telling you to turn the conversation in another direction. You might say something like: “I don’t know who stole your wallet—But I was thinking, do you like your shoes? They look comfortable.” This phrase can be anything, as long as it attempts to divert the conversation naturally and that it is not too hard to answer.
- You can try to think of things that they may need to do in order to distract them. Ask them if they need to use the restroom, if they need something to eat, or if they’re comfortable in their chair. You could even ask them if they want to step outside for a few moments.
Redirecting your loved one takes a little creativity. If your loved one is close to you, then only you know the kind of things that will be appropriate to ask. Try to ask questions that require a “yes” or “no” response and a subsequent action. For instance, try asking: “Do you have to use the restroom?” or “Do you want some water?” or even “Do you want to go outside?” If you ask a more open ended question, then ensure that it is not too difficult to answer so you do not end frustrating your loved one even more.
Thank you for watching our Wednesday Workshop.
To learn more about the Alzheimer’s Care Resource Center, feel free to call us at (877) 760-9199 or email us below. Thanks for watching today’s Wednesday Workshop! We’ll see you next week!