CNA Skill: Assisting Residents Who Have Memory Loss, Confusion or Understanding Problems

Assisting residents with memory loss, confusion and understanding problems make up a decent percent of residents in long-term care facilities.  People with head trauma, strokes, various diseases and disease processes and some medications and treatment therapies affect the brains function in memory, clear thought and problem solving skills.  The CNA needs to know how to work with and around these issues with dignity, grace and respect for the resident.

A) Knock and Announce: Knock on the resident’s door, call the resident by name, and introduce yourself.  Be clear, kind, compassionate and respectful.

B) Keep it Simple: keep your conversation, short, clear and to the point.

C) Instructions: Make sure your instructions are clear and to the point, always use the resident’s name, “Miss Ann, please put your dentures in this cup.”

D) Do not Talk Down to them: it does not matter who you are talking to or how they talk to you, never talk down to your resident.  Speak to them as an adult, use simple words and phrases, speak normally, not too fast and not too slow.  Pronounce your words completely and use a soothing tone of voice at all times.

E) Listen: Listen to your resident.  They can surprise you and they often know more than the aide realized.  So listen.

F) Mood: Residents can be sensitive to mood.  If you are overwhelmed, frantic or in a hurry your resident will pick on that and can become agitated and incorporative, take a breath and collect yourself before entering the residents room.  Keep your mood neutral and light, they respond in kind.

G) Decisions and Agitation: If you offer too many choices to your resident at one time, they can become confused and upset.  Limit the choices to two or three, manageable.  Ask the resident if they want peanut butter and jelly sandwich or a cheese sandwich. Instead of, what kind of sandwich do they want?  For dressing, give the men a choice of shirt to wear from two, let them choose between two pairs of pants.  Keep their options limited to avoid agitation and confusion.

H) Frustrated: If you see your resident becoming frustrated, take a break and slow down.  Let them collect themselves, calm down, and proceed slowly.

I) Memory: Many residents are not aware that they are living in the present.  Do not play into their delusions.  Keep them grounded in today.  If they call you by their child’s name and they think, it is May 2, 1970, gently tell them who you are and where they are and the correct date.

J) Understanding Problems: Help your resident as much as you can to understand what they are doing.  If they are having problems talking, help them with tools.  If they are having problems communicating how they are feeling, help them to calm down and take a few breaths.  If they can’t figure out or remember how to use a fork, gently and patiently show them.  You may have to do this a hundred times or more.  Remember they are just as frustrated as you are, but the calmer you remain the calmer they will remain.

3 Responses to CNA Skill: Assisting Residents Who Have Memory Loss, Confusion or Understanding Problems

  1. donabeth March 24, 2013 at 4:51 am #

    i just did a course four week course and failed the both written and skills and cold not do my clinicals was really hurt abot the sitation so I had to challenge. Thank you very much you are doing a service for those of us who are slow learners. I know god will bless you

    • Chery June 11, 2013 at 5:25 pm #

      4 weeks is not gonna cut it… To learn everything you need you gotta do at least 8, and that’s already considered a “fast track”…

    • Tommie May 26, 2022 at 10:42 pm #

      They have CNA videos on YouTube that go over all you need to learn to prepare you for the examine. It helped me a lot!! I put the videos on and practiced with them until I was confident to take the test. Don’t give up.

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