When it comes to taking care of a loved one who suffers with dementia, it has its challenges. One of the many negative effects of progressive brain disorders, like dementia and Alzheimer’s, is that it makes it extremely difficult to communicate with others. These health issues can also bring mood swings and alter someone’s behavior and personality easily and quickly.
There are strategies and methods that can be helpful when it comes to interacting with a loved one who struggles communicating due to dementia. Improving your skills of communication with someone with dementia will take some of the burden off when it comes to caregiving. By working at communicating with them, you will improve the quality of life for them and for yourself. Good communication skills will help difficult situations when it comes to caring for someone with dementia.
We have six suggestions for improving your communication skills with someone in your life with dementia. These include:
1. Observe their nonverbal reactions – Be patient with them as they wait to reply. If you find that they are struggling with how to respond, give them suggested words. Watch for their nonverbal reactions, like body language, and respond appropriately. Pay attention to the meaning and feelings that lie underneath their words.
2. Make eye contact and respect their personal space – Work at limiting their distractions when you talk to them. Before you start to talk, make sure you have their attention. Get on their level so that you can look them in the eye and maintain eye contact.
3. Be consistent – Adhering to routine may actually help their muscle memory and provide them a feeling of independence and comfort.
4. Be patient and calm with them – You can encourage them to do what they can, but they may need your help along the way in case they forget. If they become distracted or become upset, redirect their attention to something that will lift their spirit.
5. Ask simple questions – It is important to ask one question at a time. Questions that can be answered with a yes or a no work best.
6. Keep your body, face and voice positive and relaxed – Your body language and your demeanor communicate more than your words could ever do. When you speak to them in a calm and respectful manner, you set the tone. Pay attention to use positive facial expressions and tones of voice that helps them to understand that they are okay.
You will find it to be true that you are going to require patience, compassion and creativity when difficult moments occur. It is very important that you remember that when these difficult moments happen while caring for a loved one with dementia, to not take things too personally. Creativity will be a helpful tool as what works today, may not work tomorrow for communicating with them.
It is always important to remember that if they appear to be having behavioral problems due to a possible medical reason that you speak with their doctor. There can be some medication or treatment that can help resolve the problem.