I was recently sat in a room with someone who was on the phone to their 99-year-old grandmother. She is in a nursing home and old age is slowly taking her away. She has dementia.
After a few minutes making small talk, I could see that he was starting to get uncomfortable and was asking the same question over and over. He then got off of the phone as quickly as he could.
I asked if she was ok and he answered simply ‘she was crying’. It made me feel so sad and so angry that he’d clearly hung up on her.
If you need to deal with someone who has mental health issues, or dementia. The most precious gift you can give to those people is your time. We don’t need you to fix us, we don’t need you to distract us or tell jokes. Sometimes we just need you to be there.
Here’s how you can help:
- Sit with the person. There’s no need to speak.
- Hold their hand or give them a hug
- Be with them fully without your own agenda
- Forget the time
- Softly say ‘it’s ok’ or ‘I’m here for you’ or ‘I love you’
- Just be there
- Don’t ask questions and don’t try to get the other person to talk. If they want to talk they will
- Stay with them as long as they need you
It’s incredibly hard to explain what’s going on in your head. Harder still when you don’t understand it yourself. If you need to support someone with mental health issues, read as much as you can on the subject and just be there for that person.
All we need to feel better is your time and the knowledge that you care enough just to sit with us. Just be there.