Communication is actually a lot more than just the words we say to one another. A grin, gesture, or touch can speak volumes. As dementia progresses in a loved one, it may become necessary to experiment with different ways to stay connected. If you are uncertain where you should start, try these dementia communication tips:
Body Positioning and Movement
Picture a businessperson dashing down the sidewalk, shuffling papers in a folder or gripping a mobile phone securely in one hand while making exaggerated gestures with the other hand. You can naturally assume that person is under pressure, overwhelmed, and rushed.
Now picture someone swaying gently to and from while cradling a child in their arms. The feelings communicated are of calm, comfort, and peace.
Be mindful of your own personal body language throughout your interactions with a loved one with dementia, being careful not to show anger, impatience, or frustration. Slower, calm movements, with a pleasant facial expression, will communicate to the person with dementia that all is safe and well.
Eye contact lets other people see that you are paying attention to them, and that what they have to say to you is important. For someone with dementia, this should include approaching the individual from the front so there are no surprises, and keeping your face at their eye level. Avoid getting too close, which is often intimidating, but instead respect their personal space.
Holding or patting the senior’s hand, hugging them, shaking hands, or giving a light back rub are excellent ways to express love or support, but make sure these kinds of physical affection are welcomed. A loved one with dementia who is not at ease with being touched could become agitated and aggravated, or may feel as if they are condescending actions. Watch out for any negative responses and immediately refrain from any more physical touch if noted.
Whether or not the senior still understands the words you’re saying, the tone of voice you use can frequently still be interpreted. Speak in a soothing tone at a volume that’s neither too loud nor too quiet. The individual might also appreciate hearing you sing familiar tunes, or even just humming. Again, focus on signs from the senior to make sure your voice is not provoking displeasure.
At Morning Glory Home Care, provider of award-winning Alton, IL senior care, our team is specially trained in imaginative methods of communicating and interacting with individuals with Alzheimer’s disease along with other forms of dementia.
We are always here to provide further tips and resources, as well as the in-home respite care that provides you with the time to step away for a break anytime you need one. Caring for yourself is key to taking the best care of a senior you love with dementia, and with Morning Glory Home Care by your side, both you and the senior you love will benefit.