Communication When Your Loved One Has Dementia

It’s a silent, deadly killer. It’s the first biggest cause of death in women and second biggest cause of death in men. Nearly 100,000 leave with it in the UK. What is it? It’s the deliberating condition of dementia. If you have a loved one who’s suffering the effects of dementia, then you know how it affects more than just that individual. It’s a condition that the whole family has to learn to cope with and live with. Specialist dementia care companies, offer a great deal of guidance and advice as well as specialised care packages, from Live-In Care to Home Care, to make living with dementia a little bit easier.

But what can you do?

Dementia and Communication 

Communication is one of the biggest areas that suffers from the ravages of dementia. From repeating the same conversation to become confused by everyday interactions, no doubt you’ve seen the impact of this disorder on the communication skills of your loved one. Even though it’s going to be hard work, to maintain the quality of life of your loved one, as well as to help you adjust to this new stage of life, it is vital that you put the effort in to maintain communication. Simply having a conversation with someone with dementia may prove to be an emotionally draining experience but with some helpful suggestions and the right approach, you can make it a little less challenging for both you and the one suffer with dementia.

Communicating – With Words 

There are things you can do to make verbal communication a lot less stressful with your loved ones.

  • Take the initiative to start the conversation.
  • Avoid long sentences, use short, to the point phrases.
  • Slow down and try not to speak too quickly as this can easily become confusing.
  • Patiently wait for your loved one to answer. Subtly encourage a response.
  • Show that you have heard, understand, and acknowledge what the individual has said.
  • Don’t suggest too many offers or options. Keep it simple so that making a choice is as easy as can be while dignifying the person with the freedom to choose.
  • Even though it can be frustrating, don’t let that frustration become audible in your word or tone. Calmly and happily repeat anything that is needed.
  • Your tone is crucial – keep it happy and relaxed.

Communicating – Without Words 

Communication isn’t always about words. You can do a lot to improve communication without saying a thing.

  • Keep eye contact but nothing too intense – gentle, calm eye contact can really put someone at ease and show you are genuinely interested.
  • Stay calm! In both your body language and facial expressions, make sure to keep it calm.
  • Don’t stand looming over the person, get on their level, and keep your distance if necessary. Avoid any position that could be seen as threatening or intimidating.
  • Show some intuition by reading their body language and reacting and adapting accordingly.
  • Even if they are taking a long time to say what they need to say, avoid interrupting them.
  • Stay focused on the person and show sincere interest by avoiding multitasking while in conversation.

Although the challenges of communicating with someone with dementia may seem daunting at first, there are a number of things you can implement and avoid, so as to ensure things go as smoothly as possible. Make conversation about things that interest your loved one, topics they know and memories they can recollect. Try to avoid contradicting them or correcting them when you can as this repeated readjustment can become distressing. If you are upset or distressed by their communication, take five minutes to calmly recollect yourself and remember their intent was not to hurt or upset you. By adapting to fit the needs of your loved one, you can create a relaxing environment to help keep the bonds of the relationship strong.