How to Facilitate Communication with a Senior with Dementia

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After a senior is diagnosed with dementia, family members often take on caregiving tasks and begin planning for the future. While many individuals are aware of the memory loss often associated with dementia, few recognize the later stages of the condition will bring on more complex challenges, such as an inability to communicate effectively. 

If you provide care for an aging loved one with dementia, your ability to openly and effectively communicate with him or her will be instrumental in ensuring the highest quality of care throughout the course of the condition. Below, you’ll find some of the top Alzheimer’s Association–approved tips for effective communication with a senior who has dementia.

Start with the Basics

When you’re beginning a conversation, approach your loved one from the front to avoid startling him or her, and make sure the room is well lit. Identify and respect what your loved one considers a comfortable distance in terms of personal space. You may also want to identify yourself and address your loved one by name, as this helps those with dementia orient themselves to their surroundings and the conversation in general. 

Dementia can be challenging for seniors to manage, but they can maintain a higher quality of life with the help of professional dementia care. Tucson seniors can benefit greatly from the Cognitive Therapeutics Method (CTM), an activities-based program designed to promote cognitive health and delay the onset of dementia. CTM is included at no additional charge with any of the in-home care plans provided by Home Care Assistance.

Always Be Respectful

Family caregivers should always show respect for their aging loved ones. However, when dementia is a factor, it can be easy for a caregiver to change his or her tone in an attempt to facilitate a conversation. For instance, because a senior with dementia might exhibit childlike behavior, the caregiver may inadvertently resort to speaking and treating the senior as if he or she were a child. It’s important to be mindful of this common issue and respect the years your loved one has enjoyed without dementia. 

Speaking slowly to your loved one instead of changing your tone can preserve your parent’s dignity. Also, do your best to offer only small chunks of information at a time, which can help your loved one better process what you’re saying. If communication breaks down, take a breather and return with a different approach. Sometimes just sitting together in silence can be a productive way to communicate love and provide comfort. 

Take Cues & Adjust Accordingly

People with dementia sometimes need help remembering the specific words they’re looking for. At other times, being corrected will agitate them. Pick up on the subtle and not-so-subtle clues your loved one may provide with his or her reactions. Some doctors and dementia care specialists also recommend keeping a journal with this information. By writing down triggers and keeping track of them, you can enhance future communication with your loved one. 

Caring for senior loved ones can be challenging for families who don’t have expertise or professional training in home care, but this challenge doesn’t have to be faced alone. Family caregivers can turn to Tucson Home Care Assistance for the help they need. We provide high-quality live-in and respite care as well as comprehensive Alzheimer’s, dementia, stroke, and Parkinson’s care.

Use Nonverbal Communication

For seniors who have lost the ability to speak or are overstimulated by long conversations, there are a variety of nonverbal ways to communicate. For instance, if your loved one is comfortable with being touched, hugging or holding hands can be immensely reassuring. Other activities such as looking at a photo album together can also be a nice way to reminisce without the need for words. 

If your senior loved one needs help managing an illness or assistance with daily tasks, make sure you choose a top-rated provider of senior care. Home Care Assistance is here to help your loved one live a happier and healthier life in the golden years. From the mentally stimulating activities in our Cognitive Therapeutics Method to our friendly Care Managers who are available to answer your questions 24 hours a day, we offer a wide array of high-quality at-home care services. To create a customized in-home care plan for your loved one, call us at (520) 276-6555.


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