As dementia progresses, communicating with a loved one with dementia becomes increasingly challenging. Motor skills, memory, and language are some of the areas that decline as dementia advances. Family and caregivers need to be aware of these changes and prepare to deal with them as proactively as possible.
One way to facilitate successful exchanges is to prepare the environment in which communication will take place. Think of how hard it is to talk over dinner at a dark, noisy restaurant or bar. Now imagine the impact of factors like fuzzy eyesight, the droning of the TV, the shouts of grandchildren, and the barking of a dog on your loved one; external elements such as these can make communicating even harder for someone dealing with dementia.
Here are some tips to keep distractions at a minimum and allow for positive interactions:
- Mute the TV or any other extra noises like the radio, garbage disposal, side conversations in the room, etc.
- Make sure hearing aids are fully functioning and are turned up to the necessary level.
- Clean smudges off eye glasses.
- Sit or stand close to your loved one so you are easy to see.
- To help keep focus sharp, stop any other activity that you are engaging in so your conversation becomes the priority. Think ‘single-task,’ not ‘multi-task.’
- Turn on lights so the room is well-lit rather than dark; it will help your loved one read your body language and “illuminate” in more ways than one.
Brian Tracy, author and motivational speaker, teaches: “Communication is a skill that you can learn. It’s like riding a bicycle or typing. If you’re willing to work at it, you can rapidly improve the quality of every part of your life.” By working to communicate with your loved one with dementia, you can truly improve the quality of your interactions and of your relationship.
Call 866-902-4000 to speak with a Home Care Specialist about those home health care services that can help in your specific situation. And, be sure to ask about Residential Home Health's dementia and Alzheimer's specific program, MindCare.
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