10 Tips for Communicating with a Loved One with Dementia
When providing dementia care for a loved one, it’s so important that you keep communicating. Here, are our top tips for communicating with a loved one with dementia.
1. Limit distractions
Noise and distractions can make it difficult for someone with dementia to focus on a conversation. Get their full attention by turning off the TV, closing the door, or moving to a quieter location. Address them by name, identify yourself, and use non-verbal cues such as touching them on the arm to keep them focused on you and the conversation.
2. Be positive
Dementia can be extremely lonely, so set a positive mood to make your loved one feel comfortable. Your facial expressions, tone of voice, and non-verbal cues all help to show affection and create a positive, warm atmosphere. This is especially important if the person you’re talking to is getting confused and upset.
3. Keep it clear
Our next tip is to keep the conversation clear. Don’t overcomplicate things with jargon and long sentences. Speak slowly and keep your tone even and reassuring. Use names and places they recognise, and break everything down into easy-to-understand chunks.
4. Ask closed questions
Communication becomes easier when you ask simple, closed questions. Don’t give your loved one too many options and use visual prompts and clues to help guide their response. For example, don’t ask “What would you like for lunch?”; instead ask “Would you like vegetable soup or a jacket potato for your lunch?”.
5. Break things down
Dementia care can be tricky, especially when your loved one still wants to maintain some independence. To make this easier on both of you, break activities down into easy-to-follow steps. This will help your loved one feel like they’re able to do things on their own, whilst ensuring they’re safe and well.
6. Listen with your ears and eyes
Sometimes, the things your loved one doesn’t say will give away more than the things they do. Watch out for changes in their facial expression or body language to see if they’re confused and respond appropriately. Allowing them time to get their point across in their own words will mean the world to someone with dementia.
7. Distract and redirect
Dementia sufferers can get distressed if they struggle to understand so try changing the subject or environment. Don’t push something if you can see it’s upsetting your loved one. Connect on a personal level acknowledging their feelings and then move on.
8. Reassure them
Make sure you’re always reassuring the loved one you’re communicating with. Instead of telling them when they’re wrong, focus and reassure when they are right. Smile, hold hands, praise them, and touch them on the arm to make them feel safe and secure.
9. Add humour
Humour is a great way to build a rapport with someone with dementia. It’ll help them to feel comfortable in your presence, as well as give them a feeling of independence if they can laugh along with you.
Your loved one will love to reminisce with you, providing of course you focus on memories you know they can recall. This will help to reaffirm your relationship and give you something meaningful to talk about. Ask what they thought, did and felt.
If you’re considering live in care for a loved one with dementia, contact us today. Our personable, expert team will help you find the best option for your family member to help them feel happy, safe and secure.