Ocassionally as a caregiver you may be faced with the uncomfortbale task of telling a "fiblet" to a loved one. A fiblet, also known as a tiny white lie, is often neccesary in working with someone who has memory loss when we know that using logic or explananing things won't help. For example, if your loved one gets up in the morning and tells you that they need to go to work but you know they haven't worked for a decade or two, you may be faced with a dilemma.
Disorientation to time and place is common with memory loss: if a person believes that they need to work, disputing this will only lead to agitation and possibly aggression. It might even evoke other anxious concerns such as, "how will we pay the bills?" Rather than explain the circumstance, it is best to distract and divert with the use of a fiblet. "Your boss called, they said that the office is closed today and that you do not need to come in."
The primary function of a fiblet is to calm the person through comfort and distraction. It validates their worry and gives them a workable resolution. Remember, it is important to join "their reality" because trying to convince them otherwise may only create negative feelings and resistance.
Homemaking activities can be modified in ways that match a person's abilities. Example: If setting the table is confusing because it involves many steps, hand the individual just one item at a time and give instruction where to place it. Once that step has been completed move on to the next and so on. Templates can also be created as a reference guide of what the finished product should look like. Some caregivers have outlined the shape of utensils on reusable placemats to aid in successful placement.
An episode of agitation or aggression can be due to an inability to communicate basic needs. Check to see if your loved one is hungry, thirsty or needs to use the bathroom.
If the time of day marks a particular routine in your loved one’s life, try to mimic what they may have done. Routine activities are comforting. Reading the newspaper at breakfast time or helping to set the table at dinnertime are some examples.
If someone sleeps a lot during the day, they are less tired in the evening. However, a short nap in the early afternoon may be needed.
When memory and cognitive function declines in someone who has dementia, the brain compensates by an increase in emotional reactivity. Mirroring can be helpful in influencing the response of your loved one. In other words, model the behavior and temperment you hope to see in your care partner. For instance, a smile evokes a smile or calm elicits calm.
Calming activities are encouraged that are "failure free". Favorite puzzles or music that is quiet and relaxing. Having a specific task to focus on helps the brain to create new thought patterns.
Since Sundowning reduces light in the environment, it can create disorientation and cause visual distortion. Make sure that you turn on the brightest lights.
Persons with memory loss who don’t have enough to do during the day are more likely to be restless in the evenings.
Try and arrange for visits, trips and activities that require a lot of energy for mornings or early day. Many people who are living with dementia tend to function better during the first half of the day. Set them up for success whenever possible.