Knowing how to talk to a senior with dementia helps you show respect. Good communication also makes it easier to be your aging loved one’s caregiver. These tips may help you feel more comfortable talking to your loved one as dementia progresses.
Seniors with dementia may have difficulty understanding generalities. For instance, your parent may not always be able to figure out who you’re talking about when you mention his or her sister. When referring to people or places, try to use specific names. Being specific can jump-start the memory for seniors who find it challenging to make connections.
While being specific works most of the time, you may also need to flip your technique in the other direction. If names confuse your loved one, try mentioning his or her relationship to a person or place. Rephrasing also works when you need to adjust to your loved one’s type of communication needs. If your loved one fails to understand something, try switching to a shorter, less complicated sentence to see if that helps.
A professional in-home caregiver with experience in dementia care can be a wonderful addition to your caregiving team. There are a variety of age-related health conditions that can make it more challenging for seniors to live independently. However, many of the challenges they face can be easier to manage if their families opt for professional elder care. Fairfield families can rely on expertly trained caregivers to keep their loved ones safe and comfortable while aging in place.
Stick to the Topic
Trying to follow multiple threads of conversation is difficult for most people in general. For a senior with dementia, this task becomes even more challenging. Try addressing only one topic at a time. For instance, you may want to ask your loved one’s preference for dinner. Then you can ask your loved one to talk about his or her day later as you eat.
Incorporate Nonverbal Cues
A lot can be said by using body language, and combining nonverbal cues with your speech may reinforce your point. For instance, you can point at the door as you ask your loved one to follow you. Nonverbal cues can also be images. Holding up pictures as you talk can make it easier for your loved one to pick up on what you’re trying to communicate. Alternatively, you can let your parent point at a list of pictures if he or she has difficulty coming up with certain words.
Caring for a senior loved one can be challenging for families who don’t have expertise or professional training in home care, but this challenge doesn’t have to be faced alone. Family caregivers can turn to Fairfield Home Care Assistance for the help they need. We provide high-quality live-in and respite care as well as comprehensive Alzheimer’s, dementia, stroke, and Parkinson’s care.
Use a Respectful Tone
Older adults with dementia should be protected. However, that doesn’t mean they should be treated like children. Using a condescending voice similar to baby talk is a common mistake you should avoid. Although your loved one cannot always respond coherently, it’s possible he or she understands every word you say. Speak in a clear version of your normal voice to preserve your loved one’s dignity while also making it easier to focus on what you have to say.
Be Willing to Adapt
As time passes, most seniors with dementia experience more difficulties with communication. The strategies you use one day may not continue to work as the condition progresses. Make sure to change your techniques as needed to enhance communication. If necessary, ask professional dementia caregivers to share what works for them, or join a support group where you can connect with other people who successfully work through similar challenges.
If you’re looking for reliable dementia care, Fairfield Home Care Assistance offers high-quality at-home care for seniors who are managing the challenges of cognitive decline. We offer a revolutionary program called the Cognitive Therapeutics Method (CTM), which uses mentally stimulating activities to boost cognitive health in the elderly. CTM has proven to help seniors with dementia regain a sense of pride and accomplishment and learn how to engage with others in an enjoyable way. Trust your loved one’s care to the professionals at Home Care Assistance. Reach out to one of our compassionate Care Managers today at 203-955-1915.