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3. Person first, dementia second

Symptoms of dementia

Which of these symptoms are common across all people living with dementia?

[Click each one to discover the correct answer]

How can you help to build a more dementia inclusive New Zealand?

You're already helping by doing this course and learning more about dementia. At the end of this course we'll ask you to make a small commitment to help even more.

By understanding dementia and seeing the person first and their dementia second we can help build a dementia inclusive New Zealand.

Everyone is unique and by respecting a person's experiences and feelings we can help them, their families and whānau to live well with dementia.

Top five tips when talking to a person with dementia.

  1. Reduce background noise. Try to remove distractions such as TV or radio when you are trying to communicate. One-to-one conversations will be easier, but if you can't avoid a group situation, try to ensure only one person speaks at a time.
  2. Speak slowly and distinctly. Use clear and simple words and be patient. If the person pauses, count slowly to 10 in your head before breaking the silence.
  3. Stick to closed questions. Make sure that all questions have a direct ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer. For example, instead of asking ‘What would you like for lunch?’ ask ‘Would you like a cheese sandwich?’
  4. Never say ‘I've told you this before’. If the person asks you something that you’ve already spoken about, be patient. Carefully explain it to them again.
  5. Think about your body language. Face the person and use their name. Eye contact shows you're listening and a gentle tone of voice is reassuring. A smile can be infectious!

What does it feel like to live with dementia?

The same symptoms affect many people living with dementia, but the way these symptoms show themselves in a person's everyday life is unique to them.

[Read and then select each of these examples to learn more.]

"I'm scared to go out on my own, The other day I went to go round to a neighbour down the road and I found myself in the wrong street."

"We went out food shopping and my wife asked me what shall we have for dinner. I couldn’t decide. I got myself into a real muddle and became really angry. I find myself wanting my wife to organise everything for me, to make my life easier."

"My daughter took me to my grand-daughter’s party. I got inside the house and just panicked. It didn’t feel like her house. I wanted to go home. I know it must be tough for my daughter to see me this way."

"I get worried about leaving my familiar environment.When I get past the end of the driveway, I grip my wife’s hand tightly and my breathing gets faster. But I know I can’t stay in all the time."

"I always loved to cook seafood. But now when I go to the fish shop, I can’t seem to find the right words. The shop keeper tries to help, by suggesting words, but I just get angry."

"Once at the hospital, I accidentally wet myself, I was nervous and couldn’t find the toilet in time because all the signs looked the same. I was so ashamed. Luckily the nurses understood and told me not to worry."

2. Understanding dementia

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4. Reducing your risks

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