Talking to someone with dementia comes with a few challenges. Your senior loved one may not always understand what certain words mean, or he or she may suddenly trail off when in the middle of a sentence. These seven tips combat the most common issues you may face when trying to communicate with your loved one.
1. Avoid Using Baby Talk
While you might never mean to belittle your loved one, people sometimes begin to use a similar tone to talk to seniors that they would use with a baby. If you notice your voice starts to get high-pitched, make a conscious effort to lower it. Speaking to your loved one respectfully maintains his or her dignity while also making it easier for you to be understood.
Not every senior has the same care needs, which means they don’t all need the same type of in-home care. Mississauga families can rely on Home Care Assistance to provide individualized care plans to meet your elderly loved one’s unique care needs. Our holistic Balanced Care Method was designed to help seniors focus on healthy lifestyle habits such as eating nutritious foods, exercising regularly, and maintaining strong social ties, and our Cognitive Therapeutics Method offers mentally stimulating activities that can stave off cognitive decline and delay the onset of dementia.
2. Get Your Loved One’s Attention with a Gentle Touch
Your loved one’s attention may sometimes fade in and out. You can bring your loved one’s attention back to you by gently touching his or her arm or leg. Using gentle touch may also be an effective way to get your loved one to look in your direction when you initiate a conversation.
3. Use Your Loved One’s Preferred Name Often
You should also avoid calling your loved one by names that may seem demeaning, such as “baby” or “honey.” Using your loved one’s name reduces confusion, and your loved one may be more likely to listen since he or she will understand you’re speaking to him or her directly. In some cases, using your loved one’s preferred name may also help him or her figure out your relationship, such as if you’ve always called him or her Grandpa or Grandma.
4. Remember Louder Isn’t Always Better
People tend to overcompensate for potential hearing loss by practically shouting at their loved ones. For someone with dementia, using a loud voice might be misconstrued as anger. Your loud voice may also not be addressing the real issue of any misunderstandings since your loved one may be able to hear perfectly fine but is confused by the meaning of the words you use. Instead of shouting, try changing the sentence when you need to repeat something.
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 at-home care families can trust. We also offer comprehensive care for seniors with dementia, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s.
5. Make Simple Statements
You don’t want to use baby talk, yet you also don’t want to speak in such complicated language that your loved one gets lost in the conversation. Try to make only one important point at a time, and use short sentence structures to get it across. Only ask questions that require a one-word answer to keep the conversation going.
6. Watch Your Nonverbal Communication
A cheerful smile and relaxed demeanor helps with any social situation. However, people with dementia rely on seeing your face to figure out the meaning of many common statements. Make sure to let your facial expressions match your words to further enhance your loved one’s understanding.
7. Pick the Right Time and Setting
Talking to seniors with dementia is easier without distractions. Try to minimize background noise, and keep social exchanges to just between your loved one and one or two other people. If you notice your loved one is tired or wandering off mentally, try again later when he or she is fresher.
Even when families have the best intentions, caring for a senior loved one with dementia can be challenging. Fortunately, Home Care Assistance is here to help. We are a leading provider of dementia care. Mississauga, ON, families can take advantage of our flexible and customizable care plans, and our caregivers always stay up to date on the latest developments in senior care. To speak with one of our qualified Care Managers and schedule a complimentary consultation, call (289) 795-4520 today.