Everyone has been in a situation where they feel misunderstood. It’s frustrating! If you are caring for someone who suffers from dementia, remembering a time when you felt that you couldn’t express yourself or no one understood you, can be helpful. Patients who suffer from dementia feel that frustration every single day and need your help to make it easier on them. There are many resources in Mississauga and Halton for caregivers providing dementia care. Having live in care or a premier homecare service are other ways to support your loved one dealing with dementia.
However, if you are looking for specific tips on making it easier to communicate with your loved one, there are some simple things you can do to help.
Tips for Improving Communication with Dementia Patients
1. Communication is more than just words. Obviously your words do matter, but it is important to note that your body language, your tone and your pitch actually account for a greater percentage of the message you are trying to relay than your words do. Negative body language that denotes irritation or annoyance can set the communication up to fail right from the start. Be mindful of the way you present yourself.
Use your body to help convey the message. A gentle touch can help the patient feel at ease and help them pay attention to your words and simple gestures like pointing can help a great deal as well. You can also rely on photos or special items to help with communication. A live in care giver has the ability to build a bond with the patient and will have good insight into what gets the patient communicating.
2. Simplify Your Message. These may seem like really obvious things to do, but most people tend to rush conversation and don’t take the time to choose their words more carefully. Part of dementia care is taking the time to understand how the patient is being affected by dementia and knowing how to handle them as best you can.
- Be specific – instead of using ‘he’, ‘she’, refer to people by name.
- Don’t be condescending but be direct. Use simple words and short sentences.
- Break things down. Concentrate on one step or one question at a time, leaving lots of time for the person to answer.
- Bring up topics or memories that you know they will connect with and that will make them happy.
3. Environment matters. Limit distractions during communication. That goes for both you and the dementia patient. Turn off any background noise like radios or televisions and try to choose a quiet space to have your interaction. You need to be focused on the conversation so put your phone or any other distractions away. This will lead to more eye contact which can really help keep everyone focused. Engaging a premier homecare service is often the right choice, as it keeps the patient comfortable in their home which can make it easier for them to open up and talk.
4. Be Realistic. In patients suffering from dementia, their ability to speak and engage in conversation will diminish. There will be good days and bad days. You need to remain realistic about their condition and about what you can expect from your interactions. It can be very difficult to deal with dementia patients, so reaching out to resources in the Mississauga area that can support dementia care can really help.
You don’t have to handle it all on your own. iCare Home Health is a premier homecare service offering a variety of services that can be customized to support elder care home health needs. Our professional staff would be happy to speak with you and explore support options that will work for you and your loved ones. If you are located in the Mississauga, Oakville, Burlington, Milton or Toronto area and feel like you could use some extra support, give us a call at (905) 491-6941 to find out more.