Caring for a friend or loved one who is developing cognitive difficulties is not easy. One of the most challenging aspects of dementia care is communicating effectively with people who have begun to struggle with expressing themselves properly. Ultimately, as a caregiver you learn that what you say is often not as important as how you say it.
The Power of Patience and Understanding
Here are some things to keep in mind as you strive to have positive and productive conversations with a friend or loved one affected by dementia:
- Don’t interrupt the person when they are speaking, even if it is taking them some time to collect their thoughts.
- Listen for clues to the emotions behind the words. A person with dementia may use stories from the past to communicate present-day feelings.
- Observe the person’s body language. It may tell a different story than the words they are speaking.
- Avoid correcting or criticizing as much as possible, unless clarifying is truly important.
- Never talk to others as if the person with dementia can’t hear you.
- Do not engage in arguments with the person. Remain calm and do your best to keep the tension out of your voice.
- Don’t take offense if they say hurtful things. Dementia can make a very kind person say things they don’t mean and that have no basis in fact.
- Be mentally and emotionally prepared for the fact that the conversation may become very frustrating.
- Keep conversations as simple as possible. If asking questions, ask only one at a time.
- Eliminate distractions like the radio or TV if possible so that the person for whom you are providing dementia care can focus on you.
- Use the person’s name or “title” (David or dad) frequently as you talk with them.
- Keep in mind that non-verbal communication like a smile, a laugh or a kind touch can communicate a great deal to a person with dementia.
While it’s hard to know for sure, there is every reason to believe that at some level a person with dementia greatly appreciates your attempts to communicate with them. Keep trying.
Providing Attentive Dementia Care
At Seniors Helping Seniors, we work with families to make sure a senior’s home is a safe and comfortable environment. We also ensure that the person can communicate their needs and express their emotions as effectively as possible. Contact us today to learn more about our offerings through a free consultation!
We’re honored to provide quality care for seniors by seniors in Fort Collins, Loveland, Greeley, Longmont, Johnstown, Berthoud, Ault, Firestone, Wellington, Windsor, Frederick, Firestone, Laporte and surrounding areas.