When a loved one has dementia, staying connected and maintaining communication can pose certain challenges. The changes in personality and behavior that come along with the disease make it difficult to remember that our loved ones are still there, simply trapped by their condition.
However, there are some key ways we can still connect to our loved ones with dementia. Learning what works best for your particular situation will allow for easier caregiving or less stressful visits, plus you can significantly improve your relationship with your loved one.
Dementia Communication Tips
Even though a loss of communication skills is a natural consequence of memory loss, learning how to deal with dementia in your loved one by finding the right way to connect to them is vital. Properly communicating with your loved one allows you to better deal with any dementia behaviors that are not typical of their personality. Here are a few dementia communication tips to grown the connection between you and your loved one:
- Use nonverbal communication often. Oftentimes, as the saying goes, actions do speak louder than words. Making eye contact, a light touch on the hand, or a simple smile can go a long way in relaxing your loved one and be there in the moment with him or her.
- Set a positive mood. Likewise, speaking in a soft voice and showing respect help set the mood for a positive experience. Use not only your words, but as mentioned above, use body language and touch to show your loved one you are there and that you care.
- Use simple phrases and questions. Clearly state the message you’re trying to convey, using yes or no questions as often as possible. Don’t overwhelm them with a variety of options or answers, and use visual cues to prompt a response. Expect to have to repeat or rephrase certain questions as times, and try not to lose patience when doing so.
- Limit distractions during visits. When you’re trying to communicate with a loved one with dementia, eliminate noises and other distractions that can cause confusion. Make sure you have their attention, stating their name, your name and your relationship. Move to a quieter area if necessary to really improve the connections you’re attempting to make.
- Acknowledge your loved one’s feelings. People with dementia can have issues not only with memories, but they also become easily confused or suspicious of others. Instead of insisting they are wrong in their feelings, acknowledge them and try to provide reassurance and support that you understand how they feel.
- Bring up the past. Although sometimes those with dementia can’t remember what they had for lunch two hours ago, they clearly remember past events. Talk about the good old days and encourage them to share memories of time gone by.
- Keep a sense of humor. During trying times, it can be tough to keep your chin up and especially to manage a laugh or two. However, those with dementia can take cues from you and often enjoying being silly and laughing along with you. Laughter is a great way to build that connection.
Remember, your loved one with dementia is still the same person they’ve always been. Keep those connections strong by learning what dementia communication technique works best, and you’ll improve not only your relationship, but also their quality of life.
For more information about person-centered memory care through Auguste’s Cottage at American Senior Communities, please visit www.ASCSeniorCare.com/service/augustes-cottage-memory-care/.