6 Ways to Effectively Communicate with Elderly People with Dementia

Talking Properly to Seniors with Dementia in Oshkosh, WI

Seniors with dementia may find their symptoms get worse as the condition progresses. For this reason, communication between them and the people around them may become difficult. Your senior loved one may lose his or her train of thought while speaking, use the wrong words, repeat ideas, and simply say things that don’t make sense. While it can be frustrating for both of you, the following tips can help with communication.

1. Stay Positive

Never criticize your loved one for misspeaking or losing his or her train of thought. If you don’t understand something, ask questions or repeat what your loved one said to make sure it’s what he or she meant. Avoid correcting your loved one when he or she misspeaks. While it’s easy to get mad and give up, patience can go a long way toward helping you both keep your cool.

2. Speak Normally

When an older adult has difficulty speaking, it can be tempting to change the way you talk. Some people resort to baby talk, while others may raise their voice or shout. Some may even talk about the person with dementia as if he or she is not in the room. Avoid all of these tactics. Your loved one is still a human being who deserves respect and dignity.

3. Talk Simply

Long, complicated statements and questions may be too difficult for your senior loved one to respond to. Instead, try to speak clearly and use simple words and phrases. Repeat a question if your loved one has a difficult time following it. If he or she doesn’t understand it the second time, try rewording it. Ask one question at a time. Stick to questions with easy answers. For example, instead of asking what your loved one would like to have for lunch, ask if he or she would prefer a sandwich or soup. Use familiar names and places if necessary.

Living with dementia can make it difficult for seniors to manage daily tasks. If your aging loved one needs occasional help with bathing, grooming, cooking, or other basic household tasks, or if you need time to attend to important personal matters, reach out to Senior Stride Home Care, a leading provider of live-in and respite care. Oshkosh seniors can maintain their independence while living at home with the help of our reliable respite caregivers.

4. Remove Distractions

Distractions in the room can prevent you from properly communicating with your loved one. Have other people leave the room, then close the door. Turn off TVs and radios. Use eye contact and say your loved one’s name when speaking. If necessary, let your loved one know who you are. If your loved one loses focus, find a way to get his or her attention without being forceful, such as saying his or her name again or touching his or her arm. Communicate in familiar settings whenever possible. 

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 Oshkosh 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.

5. Mind Your Body Language

Sometimes it’s not what you say but how you say it, or how you don’t say it. Pay attention to your body language when you talk to your loved one. Again, eye contact or a gentle touch on the arm may keep him or her focused. Smile, nod, and keep your facial expressions friendly and neutral. It’s also important to avoid negative body language such as sighing, rolling your eyes, or crossing your arms when frustrated. It may also help to pay attention to your loved one’s body language when he or she is talking to you.

6. Keep Talking

One mistake many people make when communicating with a senior with dementia is that they stop talking, especially if the senior can no longer use verbal communication. Talking to your loved one is an important way to show love and support. Your loved one may no longer have the ability to speak to you, but it doesn’t mean he or she doesn’t understand what you have to say.

If your senior loved one needs help managing an illness or assistance with daily tasks, make sure you choose a top-rated provider of home care. Oshkosh Senior Stride Home Care is here to help your loved one live a happier and healthier life in the golden years. From the mentally stimulating activities in our Cognitive Therapeutics Method to our friendly Care Managers who are available to answer your questions 24 hours a day, we offer a wide array of high-quality at-home care services. To learn about our customized in-home care services, give us a call at 920-717-1767 today.

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