One of the biggest difficulties of having a loved one with dementia is that they just don’t seem like themselves anymore. Their judgment and reasoning become more and more of a struggle as the plaques and tangles in the brain begin to affect their thought process and behavior. It can be increasingly difficult to feel like they’re really hearing you, and in some cases, the person may become “aphasic,” meaning unable to speak. This all compounds to make communication a big obstacle.
It may feel daunting, but just because you are having difficulty communicating, doesn’t mean it’s impossible. If you’re struggling to communicate with your loved one with dementia, here are some tips to help.
Keep it Simple
People with dementia often become confused, so it’s best to talk slowly. Also speak in slow and simple sentences. This gives them plenty of time to keep track of what is being communicated. Also keep in mind that people with dementia will pick up on your mood, even if they are nonverbal, so think about what you are communicating through body language as well.
Make Eye Contact
Eye contact is a powerful way to communicate. It conveys that you care about what someone is saying and that you are really listening to them. If they can’t speak, there is still a lot that can be communicated without words through eye contact. This will also help you get to know them on a level where you can intuit a lot about what they are feeling without speaking.
If your loved one with dementia experiences “sundowning,” in which they become confused and agitated in the late afternoon and early evening, it can be difficult to talk to them during this time of day. If you know that they begin to sundown around 4:30 pm every evening, make a point to be proactive and engage them in some sort of activity before the behavior sets in, rather than wait to react to it.
See the Glass Half-Full
It can be overwhelming to face all of the things that your loved one can no longer do. This can make you feel helpless. Instead, shift your focus on what your loved one can still do. For example, if they were once a great cook, they may struggle now as following a recipe step by step is a challenge. But if you were to cut up all the ingredients and put them in a bowl, they may still be able to stir it for you, for example. As the dementia progresses, your loved one may not be able to take an active role in cooking, but they can still sit with you as you cook and enjoy the way it smells.
If you’re looking for private home care in Naples for your loved one with dementia, we would be happy to assist. We are home health care specialists with a dedication to helping people with a variety of health issues to improve their quality of life through the right care. Contact us today to learn more about our services.