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Orientation Tips for Alzheimer's

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Updated: April 21, 2006

Minimize Confusion & Disorientation

Top Tips to Help Orientate People with Dementia

Effects of an Orientation Program
There are a number of things healthcare professionals and caregivers can do to help orientate a person with dementia to time and place. Environmental and personal interaction strategies are under utilized. These strategies are often only applied if a person with Alzheimer's, or other type of dementia, is exhibiting behavioral disturbances. Yet by using these orientation tips you can help maintain the skills of someone with dementia. Your actions can be comforting and help to reduce fear and anxiety.

Problem behavior and Orientation
Orientation and supportive environmental measures are free from adverse side effects, yet medication is often seen as the first line response when people with dementia exhibit problematic or challenging behaviors. Imagine for a minute that you do not know who you are or where you are. Imagine that you are unsure who the person is who is talking to you and asking you to do things. They are helping you carry out intimate personal hygiene routines or other daily activities yet you do not understand why and feel fearful and anxious.

Someone who has dementia and who may be confused can be helped by incorporating the following orientation and environmental tips into your daily interactions with them:

15 Orientation Tips for Alzheimer's and dementia

  • 1. Speak clearly and concisely. Give repeated verbal reminders of the time and what day it is. Tell them where they are. Introduce yourself when you talk to someone and introduce or remind them who other people are who join in any conversation with you.
  • 2. Identify and correct sensory impairments; ensure patients have their glasses, hearing aid, dentures. Consider whether an interpreter is needed or use a regular caregiver with the appropriate language skills.
  • 3. Provide items that enable the person with dementia to remember where they are and orient to their environment. This should include a clock, a simple calendar i.e. write on a board today is Tuesday 14th March 2005. A chart or diary can help remind someone what they should be doing and who with.Rooms can have simple bold signs on them denoting their function, i.e. bathroom, bedroom.
  • 4. Surround a person with familiar objects. If they are in hospital or nursing home personal possessions are very important.
  • 5. Involve family and regular familiar caregivers to encourage feelings of security and orientation
  • 6. Keep room temperature between 21.1°C to 23.8°C
  • 7. Simplify care area by removing unnecessary objects. This encourages maximum, safe, mobility in familiar or regular surroundings and encourages mobility. It also allows caregivers to work in a safe, well arranged, well stocked area.
  • 8. A television or radio can be used to help provide a stimulating environment. Do find out the likes and dislikes of the individual. Familiar music of the type enjoyed by the person can assist relaxation and create a good atmosphere for teaching or interactions with caregivers or others.
  • 9. Control sources of excess noise. If a television or music is on make sure that it is not too loud.
  • 10. Ensure that lighting is adequate. Make sure your face is visible so that they can see who is talking to them and see your facial expression. Provide a night light to reduce misperceptions
  • 11. Include the person with dementia in decision making whenever possible. Feeling you have some control over your environment and in your interactions is very important for maintaining skills, interest and for your self esteem. De-personalization will increase confusion.
  • 12. Encourage self care and participation in treatment. Do encourage feedback, for example, are you feeling alright?, do you have any pain?
  • 13. Avoid using medical jargon in the presence of a person with dementia. It can encourage feelings of confusion and paranoia
  • 14. Arrange activities and treatments to allow maximum periods of uninterrupted sleep
  • 15. Ensure consistency in staff in home caregivers or in nursing home facilities
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