Jane has hired a caregiver who can stay with mom while daughter is at work, but mom has been calling her constantly and asking when she will be home.
Common response: Patient looks for her daughter, Jane who went to work in the morning. Caregiver is reading a magazine. Patient calls daughter asking where she is and when she is coming home, tells her she is sad because she hasn’t seen her for a while. Caregiver checks email on her phone, not paying attention to patient. Caregiver offers patient to watch TV and tells patient daughter will be home soon. Patient is pacing back and forth in the living room, calls daughter again. Daughter responds call and complains about her repetitive calls while she is at work. Patient is fidgeting with napkins and putting in her pocket. Mother becomes frustrated and confused and asks caregiver to get out from her house.
Expert explanation: People with dementia may experience separation anxiety, which is feeling insecure and anxious without someone familiar around them. Because people with dementia are forgetful, they will forget that they called before or asked the same questions even 5 minutes ago. When a loved one has separation anxiety, it will be helpful to distract them by keeping them busy. You can call your loved one to say “Hi” and check in.
Recommended response: Patient looks for her daughter, Jane who went to work in the morning. Caregiver introduce self, reorient, redirect, reassure patient, shows note from daughter for comforting. Daughter calls and check on patients, reminds mom that she will be home soon and offer fun activities to do with caregiver.
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The project described was supported by Grant Number 1C1CMS330982 from the Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. The contents of this publication are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services or any of its agencies. This project was funded, in part, by the Archstone Foundation.