Helpful Communication Strategies for Dementia
Alzheimer’s and other dementia conditions progressively diminish mental capacity as they worsen, including a patient’s ability to communicate with and understand the people around them. Here are some insights from our assisted living community in Gloucester County, NJ on developing an effective way to communicate with your loved one.
Common communication problems for dementia patients:
- Struggling to find the right word
- Describing an object rather than calling it by its name
- Mixing up word order while speaking
- Finding it difficult to complete a sentence or express a train of thought in full
- Using gestures rather than words
- Repeating familiar words too often
How to get the most out of your communication with your loved one:
- Create a distraction-free zone. To encourage your loved one to focus on you and what you are saying, pick a time and a quiet and calm place where no one is likely to interrupt. This allows them to focus their effort on you and the conversation.
- Steady your tone. Communicating can be frustrating. While you may be stressed or worried, if you want to communicate effectively with your loved one, you have to leave that all at the door. Relax, use a warm, calm tone and speak naturally without condescension or baby talk.
- Use names. Following a conversation takes a lot of energy and effort for many dementia patients.Using names rather than “he,” “she” or “they” helps your loved one stay on track and avoids confusion and unnecessary repetition.
- Stick to one topic at a time. It’s natural for us to jump from topic to topic and go off on a tangent, but this can be difficult for your loved one to follow. Rather, stick to one thread of conversation and only move on after you are both fully finished on that topic.
- Patience. The more progressive your loved one’s condition, the more patience you will need to have a productive conversation with them. Give them time to express what they are trying to say, actively listen to and consider their answer, and breathe deeply and let the moment pass if you start feeling frustrated.
Above all else, it’s important to remember that there will be good days and bad days with your loved one. Some days will bring good conversation while other days it will be better to simply sit quietly with your loved one and let them take comfort from your presence.
Alzheimer’s and dementia care and support at our assisted living community in Gloucester County, NJ
Collingswood is part of the United Methodist Communities’ network of high-quality, non-profit assisted living communities specializing in residential and assisted living for seniors. In addition to our wide range of customized services for seniors, we also offer expert memory care and support services for patients with dementia conditions.
To find out more about United Methodist Communities or our assisted living services, please contact us at https://pitman.umcommunities.org and book your visit today.