How to Communicate with A Loved One Living with Dementia
New caregivers who are learning to interact with loved ones exhibiting signs of dementia have many questions. The most critical of their issues can relate to an ability to communicate as this can be among the most challenging aspects of dementia. Here are some of the things you can do to improve your level of communication with a loved one dealing with type of illness:
For starters, the attitude you bring to any type of interaction sets the mood. Always keep this in mind because your demeanor and body language are going to go a long way towards helping you communicate effectively. This includes things like the tone in your voice, the way you gesticulate with your hands and your overall body language in general.
Anything that exudes anger, impatience, or frustration is only going to make communication with a loved one with dementia that much tougher. You need to set the tone and pace of the conversation and you can do that in the most subtle of ways. Facial expressions often say a whole lot more than words. Stay cognizant of this and you will be starting off on the right foot.
Keep Things Simple
In order to get any point across, you need to speak succinctly, clearly, and directly. It’s no different with someone dealing with dementia. In fact, it’s even more critical that you do this and keep your sentences short and simple. Your tone of voice is so very important in any type of communication with a loved one who has dementia, so is repetition. Don’t get impatient or annoyed if you need to repeat yourself more than once or twice to get your message across.
You may also consider rephrasing your question or statement into a far more digestible message should you continue to have trouble.
Listening Is Important
Every interaction is only successful when both parties are heard. When you are communicating with a dementia patient you always want to listen intently and wait for your loved one to get his or her message out to you. They may have trouble finding the right words, perhaps struggling to say them or even using the wrong words as a substitute.
Patience is key here, wait for them to speak and if they are having trouble finding the words they are seeking, suggest the word that you know they may be trying to find. You can also keep an eye on their body language and gesticulations with hands and arms. These are just as valuable as methods for communication as the spoken word.
Bring Back Good Memories
A loved one who has dementia may find themselves in a facility for senior care services and it might cause them to feel sadness and depression. But if you can help them remember times that have passed, it will not just brighten their spirits but also get them more enthusiastic to communicate. Whether it’s by telling a story about something they did or witnessed or simply engaging their long-term memory, recalling past times can be a great way to engage.