Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia will gradually affect a person’s ability to communicate. To continue communicating, you have to understand subtle cues and change your approach.
Cues and Approach
Communication abilities will decline, but those undergoing dementia continue to have a social awareness that can cause depression, frustration and isolation. With this in mind, the best thing people can do is to remain patient and supportive. Formulating what to say and understanding what needs to be said can become difficult. Providing comfort and reassurance will keep the channels open.
If you find yourself correcting, criticizing or arguing, its time to take a step back. A positive response is best, but when all else fails, let it be. Instead of discussing facts, shift the focus to feelings, which can be easier to articulate while still providing most of the necessary information.
Your loved one may start repeating familiar words, making up new words for familiar objects and losing their train of thought; start to transition your communication. Words might fall out of place, err to negativity or diminish entirely, but with a positive attitude, there are plenty of ways to get your point across and to listen.
Good communication starts with a relaxed environment. Reduce distractions, make calm approaches, say who you are and maintain a level view. It will give your loved one a chance to process who you are by allowing them to see and listen. Engaging as many of their senses as possible will encourage attention. Getting them to look, listen and feel encourages recognition.
By speaking slowly, calling them by name and using simple sentences and words, you will help keep them engaged. Patiently wait for their response without rushing onto something else. Pausing in silence may be difficult, but giving your loved one a chance to respond is an important aspect of communication. Avoid vague words like “it” or “that,” ambiguous questions, and negatives like “don’t.” If they are confused, pause, consider what you are trying to convey and rephrase what you are saying or use more visual cues.
Most importantly, always maintain your dignity and respect. The ability to communicate may be in decline, but those with Alzheimer’s and dementia will know and feel negative emotions, like frustration, when it presents itself. Caregivers can help ease the burden and restore balance in relationships that are going through life changes. Give us a call today if you’d like to find out how we can help.
Our caregivers are specially trained and certified to provide in-home care to to those with dementia. We have achieved the “Leaders in Dementia Care” certification through the Alzheimer’s Association. If you’d like to learn more about how to communicate with your loved one, or would just like some help, contact us today.