Breaking bad news to anyone can be difficult! However, when that person has dementia, it can become even more challenging. This is because they may not comprehend what you have said, and they can struggle to retain the information. This is a consequence of the changes that happen in the brain due to dementia. These changes can result in challenges when processing information, more confusion, and sometimes heightened emotions. Because of this, it is imperative that you are careful and considered in your approach. With that in mind, we have put together some tips on how you can give dementia sufferers bad news:
Don’t put it off
When you are communicating with a person who has dementia and you have something important to tell them, we recommend that you do not try to put off sharing the news. Delaying the news can cause further agitation or concern. This is why we recommend doing it as soon as possible. Aside from this, it is a good idea to keep your language as clear as you can! This means using simple and short sentences. You should also avoid using euphemisms, for example, [name] has passed on. While the word “dead” can be hard to say, it makes it clear for the person and so it is important to be straight to the point.
Assess their mood
In addition to this, we recommend that you continue to assess the mood of your loved one. If they seem to be upset or agitated, you can provide them with comfort. Why not distract them by engaging in an activity that they find enjoyable? It is also a good idea to think about what time of day you share the information. People with dementia tend to have periods of the day whereby they do better than other moments, like during the morning, and so this is a good time to share the news.
Let someone they trust give them the news
If you already have live-in care services for your loved one it may be a wise idea to contact the carer and ask if they would help you to break the bad news to your loved one. They are likely to be a familiar and trusted face to your loved one, and someone who could help get the message across more easily than you may be able to do. They will also have experience in understanding dementia conditions and how best to communicate with people living with the condition.
What If The News Affects Their Care?
If the bad news you’re delivering is that you will not be able to care for them alone any more, consider having a solution in place to help them understand what to expect going forward. This means that your loved one won’t have to cope with too much change by having to move from their own home should their care needs become more involved.
We hope these tips and suggestions may help if you’re attempting to someone with dementia bad news. Of course, if you are worried about their state of mind after delivering such news, you may want to speak to those in charge of their medical care before imparting news that might affect them badly.