Looking for ideas on what to do and how to communicate with your loved one who has dementia? Here are some ideas:
- Go through photo albums with them. It’s amazing how they light up when they see pictures from the past and can tell you stories about what happened in the picture, even as they can’t tell you what day it is, who is president or what they had for lunch.
- Listen to music. Study after study has shown that there are positive effects of on the mood and abilities of someone with Alzheimer’s when their favorite music is played.
- Don’t get mad or frustrated when they repeat the same thing over and over. Try to remind yourself that the person you are visiting with has a disease and often times can’t remember what was said just a few minutes ago. So when they repeat something over and over, just respond to the question and redirect them on to a new topic. It will only frustrate everyone if you get mad and point out that they just asked that exact same question a few minutes ago.
- Bring a simple gift that will brighten their room/day every time they look at it. Bright flowers. A colorful picture. A yummy treat. Try to avoid bringing gifts that are complicated to use and will just frustrate them.
- Smile. Hold their hand. Just be there with them.
Being appointed as Guardian for someone who is incapacitated – even if it is your child who you have raised his entire life – comes with significant new responsibilities. I’ve put together my “Top 5 Tips for Guardians in Minnesota” based on questions that my clients have asked me and/or things that I have observed in my 20+ years of practicing guardianship law in Minnesota.
- Always be mindful of the rights that the person under guardianship retains. They include things like: the right to personal privacy; the right to treatment with dignity and respect; the right to have their preferences regarding medical treatment and religion given due consideration; and the right to communication with persons of their choosing. They are set forth in Minn. Stat. 5245.-120, the Bill of Rights for Wards and Protected Persons
- Don’t forget to timely serve and file with the Court the annual Personal Well Being Report and Annual Notice of Right to Petition for Termination or Modification of Guardianship. This is an easy thing to do each year, but so many Guardians fail to do it, which results in the Guardian being called back in to Court to explain why the Guardian failed to do it. Courts can – and do – issue a warrant for the Guardian’s arrest if the Guardian fails to file the annual report and fails to show up in Court to explain why they didn’t timely file the report. The form report is available on the Minnesota State Court Website.
- Listen to the person under guardianship when he talks about his situation and needs. It can be frustrating to not have your life be in your own control. If a Guardian takes the time to sit down and really listen to what the person under guardianship is saying, it can go a long way in showing that the Guardian cares and is trying to be responsive and make the best decision for the situation.
- Communicate with the person under guardianship. Keep the person under guardianship informed about the actions that you are taking and the decisions that you are making on his behalf. Being kept in the dark can be scary for the person under guardianship. Remember that he is an adult and deserves to be treated with dignity and respect. Part of that is keeping him apprised of the things that you are doing for him.
- Remember that one of your responsibilities as Guardian is to assist the person under guardianship with having as much independence and freedom as possible. This will be different for each situation. For some it may mean giving the person under guardianship unlimited phone and computer, but still requiring supervision for outings in the community. For others it may be allowing them to be unsupervised in the community. Whatever the situation, be mindful of creating as much freedom and independence as is possible, while keeping the person safe.
If you have specific questions about your duties and responsibilities as Guardian in Minnesota, please feel free to reach out to me.