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Aug 23, 2016 1:56:52 PM | 4 Min Read

9 Tips for Improving the Dementia Communication Process

Posted By Vista Springs
9 Tips for Improving the Dementia Communication Process


Communicating with a loved one who has dementia can become a discouraging process. However, adopting a few simple communication techniques will create a loving environment and make meaningful connections possible. 

1. Get Educated About Dementia


The more you know about what your loved one is going through, the more easily you will be able to reach out to them. Educate yourself as much as possible and try to understand what challenges they are facing on a daily basis. Being aware of the realities of dementia will help you communicate with them in a loving, empathetic way.

2. Avoid Distractions


Before you try to connect, make sure you and your family member are in a comfortable environment free from distracting noises or activities. Television programs, radio, and loud social settings will make it particularly hard for your dementia-afflicted loved one to focus on a conversation. 

3. Speak Naturally and Clearly

The tone of your voice and mood of your body language can be more important than the words themselves, so make it your goal to speak calmly, smoothly, and lovingly. Make sure to avoid baby talk. Even people with advanced dementia may understand more than we might think, and speaking down to them will only create more tension and discomfort for everyone involved in the care plan.

4. Refer to People by Their Names.

Use specific names and avoid vague references, preventing confusion whenever possible. Do everything you can to help your loved one's shaky memory follow you through stories and anecdotes.

5. Talk About one Thing at a Time.

There's no need to pursue complex topics with someone suffering from dementia. Try not to jump from subject to subject. Remember that an in-depth conversation is not nearly as important as connecting with the person you love. If you're helping someone with daily tasks, give only one instruction at a time.

6. Use Nonverbal Cues

Even when a dementia sufferer loses verbal communication skills, body language, and facial expressions are powerful. A smile and loving eye contact will go a long way toward making a significant connection.

7. Listen

Show your loved one how much you value them by listening to what they have to say. Be patient during times when they lose their train of thought or if they have trouble expressing themselves. If they are struggling to find the right word, reassure them and be patient; if you don't understand what they're saying, gently let them know.

8. Avoid Criticism and Corrections

Remember that a significant connection is more important than the specific words shared. Try not to continually correct them at times when there are delusions or misstatements. In fact, your loved one will likely become discouraged or upset in the face of constant corrections, creating an obstacle to good communication.

9. Expect Ups and Downs

Dementia sufferers have ups and downs like everyone else. While the progression of the illness causes an overall downward decline, understand that your family member’s daily life has better and worse seasons just like yours.

So, if you are feeling frustrated or confused about reaching out to a loved one suffering from dementia, try a few of these techniques. With the right mindset and strategies in place, it is possible to make meaningful connections with a family member who is dealing with memory problems.

Topics: Care Services

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