4 Ways to Improve Communication with People with Dementia
Caring for someone with dementia can be extremely challenging, especially if you don’t have a caregiver to assist you. When a person lives with dementia, everyday tasks become more difficult for them. They also have difficulty recalling recent events, get confused quickly, lose the ability to focus for an extended period, and begin to withdraw from their friends and family.
These are just some of the reasons why it’s advisable to seek professional care for people with dementia. You could consider hiring a private home caregiver or even placement in a nursing home. Regardless of the type of care you want, it’s essential to learn how to communicate with a person with dementia.
No one starts out knowing all the skills required to care for a loved one with dementia properly, but one can learn. Working on your communication skills goes a long way in making the experience less stressful.
- Radiate positive energy
Patients with dementia often respond poorly to caregivers with a negative disposition. Setting a positive mood helps pave the way for productive communication. Since dementia usually affects a person’s mental faculties, you might need to rely on body language and demeanor to communicate your feelings instead of regular speech.
Set the tone by talking to them calmly and pleasantly. Your words and expressions must be respectful but assertive. Touch, facial expressions, and variations in the tone of voice help convey affection in advanced cases.
- Minimize distractions
When trying to get the attention of a person with dementia, you need to remove any sources of distraction around them. It could include noise from the radio or TV or passersby in the hallway. If the patient is easily distracted by movement, try shutting the door and closing the curtains.
Once you have minimized distractions, you can then initiate communication. Start by addressing them by their title and name, then proceed to identify yourself and how you’re related to them. If they’re having difficulty understanding you, try using physical touch and facial expressions to get the point across.
- Simplify communications
Do not overcomplicate communication with a patient with dementia. Use simple vocabulary and keep your sentences short. Your tone must be calm and assertive and don’t speak too fast. Keep to a lower pitch and avoid raising your voice. Repeat the message twice to help them catch up with you.
If they still don’t understand your message, wait a short while and rephrase your statement. Use specific names and places instead of general terms and pronouns.
- Redirect their attention
There will be times when people with dementia become upset or agitated. If that happens, try redirecting their attention or changing the subject. For instance, if they start raising their voice during a conversation, acknowledge what they feel and suggest a new activity.
These pointers will help you better communicate with a person with dementia. The challenge lies not in the disease itself but the changes to their personality and behavior. Always remember that every patient is deserving of love and dignity, and try not to take things personally.
Meta Title: Pointers for Dealing with People with Dementia
Meta Description: Caring for loved ones with dementia can be challenging. Here’s how to improve your communication with them.