Seniors with dementia often have difficulty expressing themselves with words and understanding complex conversations. While these communicative challenges can be frustrating for seniors and their carers, it doesn’t make effective communication impossible. Here are a few strategies family carers can use to communicate with seniors who have dementia.
Create a Calm, Distraction-Free Environment
When you need to communicate with your loved one, remove all distractions from his or her surroundings. Auditory distractions like a TV playing in the background or the sounds of traffic coming in through the window can prevent seniors from concentrating. When older adults are exposed to too many sources of information at once, they may become anxious or agitated. For optimal communication, get rid of external stimuli and create a soothing, quiet environment. Turn off the TV, close the windows, and clear away visual clutter.
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Focus on Your Body Language
To communicate with seniors with dementia, using the right words may not be enough. Because older adults with dementia have difficulty understanding verbal cues, body language becomes an important communicative tool. Consider using relaxed and open body language. If you seem nervous, your loved one may become nervous as well. Before speaking, make sure your loved one can see you. Never speak from behind your loved one’s back. It’s also important to make eye contact, as it increases focus.
Use Proper Tone of Voice
When speaking to your loved one, use a calm tone of voice and speak at a slow pace. Seniors with dementia need more time to process information, so you should insert pauses between sentences or thoughts. If you have questions to ask your loved one, try to avoid ending every sentence with a question mark. In the event your loved one is subjected to too many questions, he or she may become anxious or overwhelmed. When in conversation, try to soothe your loved one every now and then. If he or she starts to become agitated, switch to a different communication style.
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Choose the Right Words
Tailor your speech to accommodate your loved one. Seniors with dementia often have difficulty understanding multiple things at once, so communicate one idea at a time. If you’re trying to explain something with multiple steps, like a recipe, break it down into the smallest components possible. Ageing adults with dementia can easily digest information that is conveyed in small, manageable chunks. Try to rephrase your questions so your loved one can answer with a simple “yes” or “no.”
Don’t Forget to Listen
Listening is one of the most crucial elements of communicating with older adults with dementia. Always give your loved one the opportunity to speak. Refrain from cutting your loved one off or speaking over him or her. Sometimes the way seniors express themselves can seem garbled or confusing. If this happens, rephrase what your loved one said, simply and clearly, and ask whether you’re correct.
Dementia is one of the most serious health issues among older adults. If your elderly loved one is living with a serious medical condition and needs help managing the tasks of daily living, reach out to Home Care Assistance, a North Coast home care agency you can trust. Our care workers are available 24/7, there are no hidden fees in our contracts, and we offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee on all of our in-home care services. To learn about our high-quality in-home care plans, give us a call at (02) 6646 3527 today.