It’s not easy watching a loved one live with dementia. Every day brings a new challenge and it can be hard to know how to tackle conversations and situations with ease.
That’s why good communication is essential. It won’t always be easy to understand your loved one’s emotions and needs, so it’s important that you’re supportive and always there for them, no matter what.
Taking the time to do this can help your loved ones live a higher quality of life.
Thankfully if you have a loved one with dementia, there are ways you can effectively improve your communication to meet their needs.
Here are some tips and strategies to keep in mind:
When you’re spending time with your loved one, you’ll want to do your best to remove all distractions. Distractions make it hard for individuals with dementia to focus and cause unwanted misunderstandings during your conversations.
When you’re meeting with them, try to find a quiet space. Turn off the radio, the tv, or any music that’s playing in other rooms. Make sure your focus is them and only them to ensure you create a safe space.
Introduce yourself and others
Taking the time to introduce yourself and the people you’re with will help keep your loved one with dementia feel more grounded during the conversation. It reminds them of the present moment and helps them understand the situation better.
Even if you’re a close relative, like a daughter or a son, make sure you introduce yourself. Start your conversation by saying, “Hi Dad, It’s Chris, your son.” This simple step can make all the difference.
Prioritize nonverbal communication
Nonverbal communication is more powerful than you think. When it comes to communicating with loved ones with dementia, it can make all the difference during a conversation. We recommend always:
- Be mindful of your facial expressions
- Use your hands to tell a story
- Hold their hand
- Smile often
- Maintain eye contact
Keep questions simple
Some questions can be too overwhelming for the moment. They provide too many options: and this can be too much for your loved one to answer at the moment.
When you’re addressing a situation or need to ask a question, try your best to keep things simple and narrow down the possible options.
For example, if you’re asking them where they want to go to eat, rather than asking them the type of food, ask them which restaurant option they would prefer. Be specific and keep it simple.
Communication is more than just the words you say. When sitting down with your loved one, we recommend looking for ways to get creative during your conversations.
One of the best ways to do this is by looking for ways to connect with all six senses: sight, sound, taste, touch, and smell.
You can do this by:
- Bring old photos to share with them
- Buying them flowers
- Sing a song
- Cook their favorite meal
It’s not going to always be easy. You’ll need to be patient with your loved one and take every conversation one step at a time. Don’t rush things. Keep things straightforward, and do your best to make them as comfortable as possible.
There will be times when your loved one struggles with remembering something or saying a particular word. Instead of jumping in or correcting them, make sure you take your time and ease into every situation.
Be mindful of the situation
Unfortunately, there’s no cure for dementia. This disease will always make understanding and communicating difficult for your loved one. With you by their side: they’ll have all the support they need.
Approach every conversation with them with a smile. Always try to be mindful of what they’re going through. Celebrate your time with them, support their progress, and always be there to empower your loved ones every step of the way.
How senior care companions can help
At Senior Care Companions, we understand it’s not always easy to communicate with your loved ones like you used to. The daily struggles and difficulties your loved one is going through is not easy, and they need a safe and comfortable environment where they can enjoy life amidst the confusion.
Our specialists are here to help you every step of the way and provide them with the care you need to thrive. We’re a caring community that’s just as invested in your loved one’s health as you are, and we’re here to help.
To learn more about our dementia and Alzheimer’s care today: contact us today.