How to support individuals with dementia during wartime

Science and Health

The tense security situation affects each person differently, including those living with dementia. Therefore, the key is to tailor your approach to the individual and their specific requirements.

Here are some recommendations on how to prepare for caring for and accompanying individuals with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease during wartime:

Credit: Meitar Schleider Potashnik

What Not to Do:

  • Avoid Leaving the TV On Continuously: Constantly playing news in the background can be disorienting for individuals with memory issues. It’s better to stay updated through periodic communication without intrusive visual images.
  • Refrain from Sharing Disturbing Videos or Images: Avoid showing them distressing content, as it can be distressing and confusing.
  • Don’t Share Detailed Alarm Plans: Sharing the specifics of what to do during an alarm may lead to added anxiety without effective comprehension. It’s best to provide clear, simple instructions when necessary.

What to Do:

  • Give Clear Instructions during Alarms: When you need to move to a safe area, use concise and straightforward language. For example, say, “Go to the room on the left,” or “take your cane and come with me.” Avoid abstract terms.
  • Accompany Words with Actions: Combine verbal instructions with physical demonstrations to enhance understanding.
  • Reassure Them Verbally: Repeatedly convey that you’re by their side, won’t leave without them, and won’t abandon them. This verbal reassurance strengthens their sense of security.
  • Share Your Feelings: Let them know that you’re also fearful. Allow them to express words of comfort and encouragement, as they’ve experienced similar situations before.
  • Offer Hugs: Studies show that extended hugs (around 20 seconds) release calming hormones and neurotransmitters, benefiting both of you.
  • Use Music: Music can mask external noises, relax, and distract the mind. If possible, have a calming playlist on your mobile phone ready to play.
  • Monitor Their Condition: If you notice a significant deterioration in their condition, consult with their attending physician.
  • Communicate with Care Providers: If there’s a nursing care provider living at home or one who visits for a few hours daily, discuss the unique situation and prepare necessary equipment together.

For family inquiries, you can contact the association at *8889.

Dr. Dana Peer is a dementia expert and gerontological consultant.