Dementia affects each person differently, but a common symptom is for the person to repeat stories or not being able to find the work they need to express something. other issues may be losing track of their thoughts, speaking in tangents, speech which is disorganized, reverting to a native language or even speaking less.
But even with trouble communicating, a person with dementia may still be able to respond. They may become frustrated because they can’t communicate what they want. Or, sometimes they may not understand what is being said to them. When you communicate with a person who has dementia how you say it sometimes is more important then what you say.
The first thing is for you to recognize that dementia gets worse as time goes by. Your loved one will have a more difficulty understanding you and other people gradually. Communication from your loved one will decrease as well. Below are some tips for communication with a person who has dementia:
1. Avoid distractions: When having a conversation with your loved one, find a place without distractions and is quiet. This will let your person focus on what is being said.
2. Talk naturally: When speaking, talk naturally and clearly in a calm and warm speaking voice. Don’t use baby talk or be condescending, this is insulting to your loved one.
3. Use names: Using names instead of pronouns makes it clearer who you’re talking about. Plus, greet the person by name and identify yourself as well. This makes it less confusing for the person with dementia and they can focus better on who is talking to them.
4. One topic: Talk about one topic at a time. A person with dementia has trouble changing gears in the middle of a conversation if the topic is switched to multiple threads. Finish one topic before switching to another.
5. Nonverbal cues: Always smile and maintain eye contact to put your loved one at ease. If the dementia is advanced, this may be the only way to maintain communication. Nonverbal communication such as facial expressions and vocal sounds may be the only way a person in advanced dementia can communicate.
6. Listen: Actively listen and if you don’t understand what your loved one is talking about, inform them politely.
7. Correcting: People with dementia make inaccurate statements sometimes. Don’t try to correct it, let the misstatements and delusions go. If you correct every little thing, then your loved one will stop talking to you and become frustrated.
8. Be patient: You will need to be patient and let your loved one process what you’re talking about before they answer. Give them a moment to respond and don’t become frustrated.
9. Understanding: Realize that your loved one will have good days and bad days and adjust yourself accordingly.
Communication with a person who has dementia isn’t easy, but with patience it can be done. You can show love non-verbally as well as verbally.