Caring for a loved one with Alzheimer's disease or another form of dementia can be challenging, rewarding, enlightening and mysterious all in the same day. Here are some practical DementiaWise® tips to help make communicating with a loved one with dementia easier.
Remember the importance of nonverbal communication
Nonverbal communication becomes more important as verbal language fails. Be aware of your body language at all times. Check yourself to make sure you are as even-tempered as possible. People with dementia pick up on nonverbal cues, body language and mood. If they perceive something is amiss, they may assume they have done something wrong and mirror your anxiousness, anger or frustration. Leave your worries and problems at the door as much as possible.
Enter your loved one’s reality
“If someone living with dementia believes something to be true, it is true.” – Bob DeMarco, AlzheimersReadingRoom.com
Stop arguing. Let go of your need to be right. When your mother says something you know to be wrong, do not correct her. Does your mom want to write a letter to her mother, who died 20 years ago? Get a pen and paper and help her find the right address. You will save yourself many arguments by just going along with aspects of your loved one’s reality that do not cause harm or interfere with your care routine.
Offer choices and simplify
Phrase questions simply. Try to ask questions that require “yes” or “no” answers rather than an explanation. Offer choices and autonomy whenever possible but try to limit options to no more than two. People with dementia often choose the last choice offered, so offer the more attractive option last. Offering choice gives people living with dementia a sense of control and autonomy, feelings they still need even as they depend more on others for care.
Have a consistent schedule and communicate that schedule to your loved one
Keeping a regular schedule and communicating that schedule helps days feel more predictable for people with dementia. Routine and structure promote calm feelings. This environment also fosters good communication. Consistency will help you and your loved one navigate challenges (including schedule changes, when necessary).
ComForCare Home Care can provide additional support at home with caregivers trained in DementiaWise, a care program designed specifically for those with dementia. For more information about how ComForCare Home Care can help you on your caregiving journey, call 800-886-4044 for a free consultation.