How To Effectively Communicate With Someone Who Has Moderate To Severe Dementia
Once there is a diagnosis of dementia, some family members do not recognize the person that has taken over their loved ones mind and body. The loved one may not communicate or communicate in a way that is not recognized or their "normal way". The loved person becomes a shell of the person they used to be and can slowly start closing themselves off to family and friends. To open the delicate shell, it requires patience to gratefully crack that shell open to maybe only get a fleeting moment of the treasure inside.
Below are some tips that have been compiled together to help you get to the point of communication with a loved one with dementia.
1).RECOGNIZE WHAT YOU ARE UP AGAINST.
Unfortunately, dementia does get worse as time goes on. As dementia progresses, the skill of communication will slowly regress as well as the understanding of people around them.
2). AVOID DISTRACTIONS.
Talk to your loved one when there is minimal amount or no distractions around. Talk to them in a quiet house setting or somewhere else relatively quiet so they can focus their mental energy on you and the conversation.
3). SPEAK CLEARLY AND NATURALLY IN A WARM AND CALM VOICE.
Do not talk to them like they are beneath you or in baby talk. Talk to your loved one the way you used to.
4). REFER TO PEOPLE BY THEIR NAMES.
When possible, avoid using 'he', 'she', 'they', etc. Names are useful in getting them to try to remember.
5). TALK ABOUT ONE THING AT A TIME.
Someone with dementia may not able to follow many conversations about various things. Try to stick to one topic and complete the topic before you move onto the next one.
6). USE NONVERBAL CUES.
Maintain eye contact and smile. Hold hands if you and your loved one feel comfortable. Once dementia has progressed, nonverbal cues may be the only way of communication with your loved one.
7). LISTEN ACTIVELY.
Pay attention to what your loved one is saying. If you are having a hard time trying to understand what they are saying, gently ask them to slow down if necessary and to repeat.
8). DON'T QUIBBLE.
Do not try to argue. Your conversations are likely to not go very far if you are arguing over every small thing that is being said and could be inaccurate. It is okay to give into delusions and wrong statements go.
9). HAVE PATIENCE.
Give your loved one extra time to process what you are saying. When you ask a question, give them more time than what you would normally to respond. They take more time to process your question and to form what they want to say. Do not rush them into an answer or jump to another topic right away. Do not let your frustration and impatience get the better of you.
10). UNDERSTAND THERE WILL BE GOOD AND BAD DAYS.
Just like everyone else, everyone has good and bad days. Having a loved one with dementia means that you may have to embrace a few more bad days than good days but be grateful for the time that you have with them.
Try to understand what someone with dementia is going through. Make future plans if necessary while they are still having lucid days if they feel inclined. Go with what they are wanting and do not treat them any different than before. Just remember to keep patience and gratefulness for the time you have with each other.
Have any more tips for people with dementia? Comment below with more tips or your own experience with people with dementia.