Monday, April 14, 2014

Caregiver Communication Tips for Seniors with Dementia

Communicating with and caring for a loved one with dementia can prove difficult; the disease erodes a person’s rational thinking abilities. They may have severe mood swings and trouble interacting with others, not to mention debilitating memory problems. As a result, the lengthy conversations you once enjoyed will need to change and evolve. In order to communicate successfully with an elderly parent who has dementia, consider the following tips:

State your message clearly

Elder care professionals explain that those with Alzheimer’s can quickly become confused by wordy or convoluted messages. As a result, they may become overwhelmed and start to get upset. To prevent this from happening, make sure to get to the point quickly. Use simple words and sentences, and speak slowly and distinctly. Always use a reassuring tone, and never raise your voice. 

If a question is posed and the senior doesn’t understand, use the same wording to repeat the question. Avoid speaking in a louder or higher voice. If there is still confusion, wait a brief moment and repeat the question, rephrasing it as you go. Instead of using pronouns like “he” or “she,” make sure to use names of people to prevent confusion. Say, “That’s what Sue told me” instead of “That’s what she told me,” even if “she” feels more natural in the sentence.

Make it a positive interaction

Tone of voice and body language can quickly convey emotion whether you realize it or not. Make sure that you are turning your interactions into positive ones by speaking in a pleasant manner and conveying this kind of body language too. Use a soft tone of voice and a happy facial expression to further signify that you are showing affection toward the individual. Take care not to use too much physical touch too suddenly, as this can startle the senior or cause them to get agitated. 

Break tasks down into smaller chunks

Presenting your elderly loved one with three or four different steps can quickly overwhelm them, causing them to get upset. Instead, break these tasks into more manageable chunks. Start with step one, and then move onto step two. You may need to remind them what they’re supposed to be doing along the way.

While it can be sad and frustrating to see an elderly loved one struggle with dementia, knowing how to communicate with this person can keep your relationship strong, even as their mind changes. Instead of focusing on the challenges, turn your attention toward the positive, happy moments that occur during the day. 

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for great information you wrote about communicating with Dementia patients. I am very lucky to get this tips from you.

    Dementia specialist