Some Communication Tips for Dementia
TAMMY ADAMS & SUSAN FISHER
Do you know someone living with Alzheimer’s disease or related dementia? Perhaps you’re a caregiver yourself and you’re struggling to communicate effectively with someone who is losing the ability to communicate back.
Hopefully, some of these tips will help you!
Look for non-verbal communication:
As seniors living with dementia lose the ability to speak, they may rely on alternative ways of communicating their thoughts and feelings. You could create a “communication board” made up of simple pictures displaying different actions or feelings to help them.
Limit the number of choices:
Someone living with dementia can become easily overwhelmed, so having a choice between two options is easier than them having to tell you what they would like. For example, you could ask, “Would you like beef or chicken for dinner?” instead of “what would you like for dinner?”
Validate their feelings:
Everyone wants to be heard and know it’s OK to feel the way they feel. Someone living with dementia is no different. If they are scared, provide them comfort and tell them it’s OK to be scared and you are right there to help them. Tell them it’s OK to feel sad if they are sad, and you’re there to support them.
Listening is important:
Someone living with dementia may want to talk about what changes they’re noticing and how it makes them feel. Remember to validate how they feel when they tell you.
Let go of the need to be right:
This is one of the hardest things for most caregivers. Someone with dementia lives in their own reality, so meet them where they’re at. Try not to correct or argue with them, as it will cause them to become agitated. Imagine someone telling you you’re wrong all the time, this is what they are going through.
A senior living with dementia has a fascinating story to tell. If you’re struggling with how to carry on a conversation with someone who is no longer able to do so, try bringing out some old photos or colourful magazines of interest and look through them together. Remember, not all communication needs to be verbal. Sometimes simply sitting together and enjoying the simple things can be the most effective.
Silver Lights Senior Services Day Program is up and running. We have some available spaces for drop-offs. So if caregivers need a few hours to run errands or do Christmas shopping, please contact us for more details. 705-324-2911
Tammy and Susan run Silver Lights Senior Services, a family-owned and operated seniors’ homecare company, serving the City of Kawartha Lakes, Port Perry and Uxbridge. A New Adult Day Program for Dementia is now open in Lindsay, Ontario. Find them on Facebook and Instagram or visit their website, at www.silverlightsseniorservices.com.