How can I get my loved one living with dementia to wear a mask?
Unfortunately, there is no simple answer to this question as every elder will respond differently to different tactics. Although there is no fool proof way to get your loved one to wear a mask, there are a few things you can try to learn what might work best for your circumstances.
#1: Always remember to review the “why”
Before entering a situation where your loved one will need to wear a mask, it is important to always review the purpose of wearing one with the person with dementia. A common mistake people make during this review process is over complicating it by using less familiar words like “pandemic.” Stick to something simple such as, “there is a virus/flu going around and in order to protect ourselves and others from getting sick we must wear a mask.”
Depending on the stage of dementia your loved one is in, you may be required to review why the mask is a necessity with your loved one several times throughout an outing. Remember that even though this can be frustrating, it is important to remain calm. Your tone may greatly impact how the information is being received by person with Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia.
#2: Make mask selection comfortable and fun
Try making the act of putting a mask on a fun part of your loved one’s day instead of a chore. Ensure this by experimenting with a wide variety of colors, patterns, materials, and types of masks so that you can figure out what is most comfortable for him/her. For example, if your loved one with dementia finds masks with ear loops to be uncomfortable, try a mask that ties behind the head instead.
Before leaving the house, make selecting a mask a fun part of the day by finding one that will look best with his/her outfit. You can encourage your loved one to think of the mask as another accessory he/she can use to add to the look for the day.
#3: Keep your loved one busy and distracted
When all else fails, distracting your loved one with dementia is the key to making him/her forget about the mask, even if just temporarily. Bring something that your loved one, with Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia, can fidget with, such as a puzzle, an iPad with a video to watch, or a game to play. Just having something in his/her hands can offer distraction enough to forget about the mask entirely.
If you have questions about these tips or your specific situation, Ask Mimi.