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'How to respond to patients who have dementia'

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How should you respond to a patient with dementia asking for her long-dead mother?

Do you tell the truth and risk traumatising her because memory loss means it’s news to her? Or do you lie and risk losing her trust if she suddenly remembers her mother’s death?

Caring for people with dementia can involve many such conversations, and getting them wrong can cause distress and lead to challenging behaviour.

Our review discusses the how health professionals can handle difficult conversations; understanding the underlying need a patient may be trying to express, and responding to that are crucial. The authors encourage health professionals to acknowledge what the patient is saying, offer reassurance and offer activity to underpin that reassurance.

Ann Shuttleworth is practice and learning editor of Nursing Times Twitter @AnnNursingTimes

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