Helpful Dementia Communication Techniques
Has your family been impacted by dementia? This heartbreaking disease affects approximately 5.7 million Americans. Studies project that this number will grow to 13.9 million by 2060.
This creates a struggle for families and caregivers as they cope with the deterioration of a loved one.
Trying to communicate can present one of the greatest challenges for both the patient and the caregivers.
Keep reading to learn about some of the most helpful dementia communication techniques. These strategies can help you connect with your loved one or patient.
Communication Problems Experienced by People with Dementia
Frustration often occurs for both the patient and the caregiver when trying to communicate. Persons with dementia may demonstrate:
Trouble finding the right words to describe their feelings or needs
Loss of train of thought
Problems understanding word meaning
Problems attending to long conversations
Trouble remembering the steps to complete tasks
Problems blocking out background noises
Persons with dementia often become upset because it’s hard to express their thoughts. They may also experience increased sensitivity to touch and the tone of others' voices.
Multilingual individuals may lose the ability to speak additional languages. For example, if Spanish is their first language, they may no longer understand English.
Recognize Obstacles to Communication
First, recognize and understand the barriers to communication. Next, develop a plan to overcome these obstacles.
Begin by making eye contact and using an easy, comfortable tone of voice. If they are sitting, you should sit as well with a relaxed posture. Call the person by name.
Some individuals respond well to a gentle touch or holding their hand. Approach cautiously and alter your interaction based on the person’s response. If a patient becomes upset, try distracting them and change your approach.
If you feel uncomfortable in the situation, the patient will sense this and become tense. When you become frustrated, their frustration will increase as well. Be conscious of your feelings and ensure that you remain upbeat and positive.
Dementia Communication Techniques
Research has explored techniques to enhance communication with those experiencing dementia. The findings were somewhat different than earlier beliefs.
Begin with broad openings and questions instead of closed-ended questions. This study found this strategy most often resulted in long, meaningful responses.
This allows the individual to lead the conversation's direction. They can introduce topics that are important to them.
Speak to the person with respect and as an equal. Many individuals sense that they aren’t in full control. This provides an increased feeling of confidence and independence.
Establish commonalities with the patient. This can lead to discussions about shared interests. Follow the patient’s lead and avoid changing the subject.
At times, caregivers may need to use closed-ended questions to facilitate the completion of tasks. For example, when performing activities of daily living or taking medications.
Are You Caring for a Person with Dementia?
Providing care to persons with dementia requires you to focus on each interaction. This article has described some essential dementia communication techniques that can help you gain more positive results.
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