Vascular Dementia and Facial Recognition

vascular dementia

Vascular Dementia and Facial Recognition

In the final stages of vascular dementia, you may find your relationship changing in one specific new way: they have a lot more trouble remembering your face. When you enter the room, you may find you have to start speaking to them as soon as you make eye contact to “pick up speed”, so to speak, so they make that connection early. Other times, you might have no luck whatsoever, and the most you can do is damage control as they struggle to place who you are.

Understandably, this can be extremely difficult to deal with. The best way, most often, is just to treat it like any other illness. When someone gets the flu or food poisoning, the problem is with their body, and your job is only to be there for them and help them through it. If you can take the same approach to dementia, there’s less room to feel hurt by them “forgetting you” and more focus on helping them cope with their illness.

Here are come common tips that may help:

Voice

One of the best connections a vascular dementia patient typically has with the people around them is their voice. Voices are familiar. They’re intimate and carry certain unmistakable qualities.

Start with a simple, clear introduction (more on that in a minute). Speak slowly and clearly to them. Even if you‘re a spouse or close relative, speak in a manner that makes it very clear who you are.

Facial Accessories

When it comes to face blindness, you want to keep the visuals as uncomplicated as possible. If you have always had a beard, do your best to maintain that beard. Keep your makeup simple, let your hair down if that’s how you traditionally wear it.

All of these concessions can be frustrating for family members trying to live their lives, but the truth is it’s a small price to pay to keep your connections with your loved ones.

Introductions

This is one of the most effective life hacks for working around vascular dementia. When you enter a room with them in it, introduce yourself by name and relationship every time. “Hi mom, it’s your daughter, Alison.” “Hi grandpa, it’s Dave and your grandkids, Ben and Agnes.” This is a simple tool for taking the pressure off of the elderly person, as they get given the information upfront, and can start filling in any blanks based on that.

As an added tip, never ask “Hey, do you remember me?” This question puts the person on their guard, making them feel like they’re being tested and can frustrate them when they don’t know the answer right away.

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