Communicating with an older adult who has dementia is no easy task. Dementia affects their memory, ability to think, personality, and their ability to speak. All of these things can make communication extremely difficult, both for the older adult and for caregivers. However, it is not impossible. There are some techniques that have proven effective to communicate both meanings and emotions with dementia patients. Below are 6 tips to help you communicate better.
#1: Remember that actions speak louder than words.
Even if your family member cannot understand the words you are saying, they can still read your body language. That means that when you try to talk to an older adult who has dementia you need to be conscious of the emotions your facial expression, movements, and tone of voice convey. Use a positive and respectful tone. Also, speak in a pleasant manner that expresses how you feel.
#2: Repeat to clarify.
If you are uncertain what a person with dementia is trying to tell you, try repeating what they said. This can either confirm that you heard them correctly, or they may reword what they said to make it clearer.
#3: Remove distractions.
Background noise and movement can be distracting for someone with dementia, making it harder for them to concentrate on what you are saying. Before starting a conversation, turn off the television or radio or take the senior to a quiet place.
#4: Sit directly in front of the older adult.
Before you start a conversation, you want to make sure you have the older adult’s attention. Sit directly in front of them where they can see you. It can also help to hold their hand or gently touch their arm or shoulder.
#5: Be respectful.
Although older adults with dementia may no longer have the mental capacity they once did, they are not children. Avoid using baby talk. Speak to them with respect just the way you did before they were diagnosed. Call them by the same name you used to. For example, if you are a caregiver for an elderly neighbor that you always called Mrs. Henson, don’t start using her first name or referring to her by a nickname. Continue calling her Mrs. Henson.
#6: Don’t talk about them when they are in the room.
Always treat the older adult as though they can understand what is being said. You would not have talked about them when they were in the room before dementia, so don’t do it now. Instead, include them in the conversation.
Home care providers can help with communication as well. Home care agencies are often able to match the experience of their staff members with the needs of their clients. Therefore, it’s likely that your aging relative’s home care provider has experience working with senior’s who have dementia and is adept at communicating with them.
Home Care in Cherry Hill,NJ, and the surrounding areas, call and talk to us at Home to Stay Healthcare Solutions (856) 321-1500.