7 Best Ways to Communicate with a Loved One Who Has Dementia

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Attempting to communicate with a senior loved one who has dementia can be challenging at times. Of course, making the effort to remain engaged with someone special in your life who happens to have a dementia-related condition can also result in some much-appreciated quality time. For the most part, this is possible even if your loved one’s cognitive impairment is severe. Below you’ll find some tips to help you communicate more effectively with someone with dementia.

1. Reduce Distractions

Before having a conversation that involves more than a few simple exchanges, make sure distractions in your loved one’s immediate environment are at a minimum. Along with turning the TV or radio down or off, you can reduce distractions by:

• Making sure there’s not too much light coming into the room
• Getting your loved one’s full attention when you want to talk
• Kneeling or sitting at your loved one’s level instead of standing over him or her
• Keeping your body language calm and relaxed

2. Time Conversations Around Better Times of the Day

Some seniors with dementia become less attentive, more confused, and moodier at certain times of the day. With some forms of dementia, older adults may experience late-day confusion or moodiness, which are symptoms of a syndrome referred to as “sundowning.” Whenever possible, have more involved conversations with your loved one during those times of the day when you know he or she tends to be more focused.

If your senior loved one has been diagnosed with a serious condition and needs help with tasks like meal prep, transportation, bathing, and grooming, reach out to Home Care Assistance, a leading provider of homecare services families can trust. We also offer comprehensive care for seniors with dementia, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s.

3. Speak Clearly & Calmly

Speak at a slower pace, and pause briefly between your sentences so your loved one can process what you’re saying. Remain calm while also speaking with clarity. It can also be helpful to use shorter, simple sentences as you speak.

4. Treat Your Loved One as an Adult

There’s a difference between keeping things simple and clear and being unintentionally condescending. Avoid talking to your loved one as if he or she were a child, and don’t speak to others in the room as if your parent isn’t there. Be patient, and treat your loved one with respect.

Caring for a senior loved one 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 Victoria 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.

5. Use Humor & Don’t Get Caught Up in Details

Humor can be a great way to make tense moments more relaxed, and this is something you can easily do during moments when your loved one makes little mistakes or when both of you are getting a bit frustrated. Also, don’t quibble over minor inaccuracies concerning things such as dates, places, and other details your loved one may be telling you about.

6. Listen Carefully & Ask for Clarification

Increase your own understanding of what your loved one is saying by listening carefully. If he or she is having a difficult time finding words, respectfully ask for clarification. Related tactics to consider include:

• Paraphrasing what you understand so your loved one knows what to focus on
• Monitoring your loved one’s facial expressions to figure out what he or she is trying to tell you
• Not interrupting or finishing your loved one’s sentences so he or she doesn’t forget what he or she wants to convey

7. Pay Attention to Body Language

During the later stages of dementia, your loved one may have difficulty clearly expressing his or her emotions. When you get to this point, pay close attention to your loved one’s body language—and your own—by:

• Looking at your loved one’s body position and expressions as he or she speaks so you can get a feel for his or her mood
• Avoiding sudden movements or expressions that suggest you’re getting frustrated or impatient
• Respecting your loved one’s personal space by not getting uncomfortably close when communicating
• Using gentle forms of physical contact, such as a hand on the shoulder, to provide reassurance 

If you’re looking for reliable dementia care, Victoria Home Care Assistance offers high-quality at-home care for seniors who are managing the challenges of cognitive decline. We offer a revolutionary program called the Cognitive Therapeutics Method (CTM), which uses mentally stimulating activities to boost cognitive health in the elderly. CTM has proven to help seniors with dementia regain a sense of pride and accomplishment and learn how to engage with others in an enjoyable way. For reliable in-home dementia care services, contact us at (250) 592-4881 today.