Dementia comes in many forms, with Alzheimer’s Disease being one of the most well-known. This disease is increasingly affecting the elderly and is progressive and as yet, has no cure, meaning that it worsens through time. Patients experience difficulties with memory, cognitive skills, talking and doing simple tasks, making it hard not only for them but their caregivers as well.

There are some ways that may help to make the journey easier for both of you — one of which is by effectively communicating with them.

Here are 6 Ways to communicate effectively with a person who has dementia.

●       Work on your body language

Whenever you’re talking to a senior with dementia, always see to it that you are seated on their opposite direction and are facing them. This will reduce the distractions and will make it easier for you to convey the message to them. Maintain eye contact as much as possible as they will be able to better understand what you’re trying to say by deciphering your facial cues.

●       Be very patient

This might sound simple and obvious, but this tip is very crucial in helping loved ones cope with the disease. Exercise patience when treating seniors with dementia. Expect to repeat talking points numerous times because they may have a hard time understanding or they may quickly forget what you say.

Also, slow your speech down and speak with a mellow tone. And don’t get frustrated if they react unpleasantly. Instead, repeat your message and if possible, simplify your thoughts down.

●       Respect is key

Seniors suffering from dementia easily get frustrated with themselves. This might be because they have a hard time understanding what you’re trying to say, they’re bored, or they feel helpless and useless. Because of this, it’s important to show them respect — lots of it.

Elders have differing opinions about contemporary ideas. Don’t dive deep into topics that talk about religion, politics, or even subjects as petty as fashion. Accept what they have to say, and if they offend you in some way, then just let it pass. Remember, they are already old and are suffering from a health condition.

●       Listen actively

Actively listen to what seniors have to say. Understand their statements even if sometimes what they’re talking about is vague. Also, use body language such as thumbs up and affirmative nods to confirm that you have understood them.

And if for some reason you can’t understand what they said, don’t hesitate to ask them. Asking for clarification is better than giving them a wrong answer.

●       Give comfort

It’s not just giving them a comforting conversation, but it’s also about ensuring that they are physically comfortable. Always ensure that they feel good whenever engaging in a dialogue with you.

Give them a blanket if they’re feeling cold, turn on the AC if the weather’s too warm, or perhaps place a pillow at their backs to relieve their arthritic pains. Not only does this make it easier for the both of you to talk, but this also gives them a positive feeling when you’re around.

●       Use simple language

Seniors, especially those suffering from dementia, may lose their sight, hearing, and short and long-term memory. Because of this, it’s important that you make your conversations as simple as possible. Use plain language to make it easier for patients to understand what you’re trying to say.

Treating a person with dementia with respect and dignity is crucial to their overall wellbeing. Don’t treat them as if they’re not there or in the way that you would treat a young child. Show them empathy and give them a sense of reassurance — that someday and somehow, they’re going to feel better.

Help them understand that aging is an inevitable part of life but there can be many wonderful moments left and practicing effective communication can increase those moments.

This is a guest article contributed by Jane Byrne, Project Coordinator at FirstCare.


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