How Do You Talk to Someone with Dementia?
It can be painful and heartbreaking to watch a loved one deteriorate with dementia. Whether it’s due to Alzheimer’s disease or other condition associated with aging, dementia can progress with devastating results. At first, it may start of as simple forgetfulness that you can easily joke about as signs of aging. But soon, this can gradually become a severe and life-altering impairment.
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As a result of this, communicating with them becomes harder. However, there is a way to cope.
First, get to know what dementia is. Talk to their health care providers to find out if your loved one has moderate or severe dementia. Then, follow these tips on how to talk to someone with dementia.
Tips on how to talk to someone with dementia
- Time it right. As with any conversation, you should know the right time and place. This is especially true for elderly with dementia. Find a place where they feel comfortable and avoid distractions so they can focus on the conversation.
- Refer to them by names. During conversations, use their names often. Greet them with their names and avoid using pronouns. You also make it a point to use your name or other people’s names so they better can associate names with faces.
- Speak clearly and calmly. Avoid baby-talk.Speak to them calmly and clearly. You can speak slower if necessary, but refrain from condescension. Be as natural as you can.
- Stick to one topic at a time. Avoid talking about many things at once. Allow them time to digest what you’re saying and understand the topic before moving on to another.
- Maintain eye contact. This will help facilitate understanding and ensure connection.
- Use non-verbal cues if necessary. This is important especially in advanced dementia. You may need to use your hands, gestures, or facial expressions to supplement your words for better understanding.
- Actively listen. Make sure to make it a two-way conversation. Let them talk if they want to say something, pause every once in a while to wait for them to respond.
- Ask open-ended questions. Make sure to engage them by asking questions that can get them talking.
- Go easy on them. They are bound to make mistakes when they talk. Their statements may be inaccurate and they may have inconsistencies, but it is inappropriate to correct everything they say.
- Be patient. Understand their condition and allow them time to understand what you’re saying. If they don’t right away, repeat it clearly and try not to be easily frustrated.
When it comes to your loved ones with dementia, you have to be equipped with knowledge of their condition and needs, as well as the patience to deal with the everyday challenges of caring for them.
If you need help caring for your loved ones with dementia, Big Hearts is here for you. Call or text us at 09175098826 to have professional caregivers caring for them in a safe, secure, and nurturing environment.