Non-Medical In-Home Care Guide: 8 Communication Tips for Parents with Dementia
During our work with families in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, our caregivers have occasionally heard the phrase “empty shell” used to describe loved ones enduring the later stages of dementia.
We’re disinclined to use that term; while it’s true that progressive cognitive decline takes a tragic toll, your loved one is much more than an “empty shell.” Granted, that shell might be tougher to shuck – some days it won’t open at all – but there’s still a special pearl within.
So how do you open the shell and win more moments with your aging loved ones?
Today’s post shares 8 communication strategies to help you communicate with a loved one suffering from dementia, courtesy of our non-medical in-home care team in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Non-Medical In-Home Care Strategies For Dementia Sufferers
- Know what you’re up against. Dementia causes a progressive decline in cognitive function, which means your loved one’s condition will get worse over time. Understand that the communication gap will widen and your patience will be tried, and that there will be good days and bad days.
- Find tranquil spaces. Trying to speak to a loved one in a busy cafe is inherently going to be more difficult than doing so in a quiet park. Noise factor aside, finding areas with fewer distractions will allow your loved one to focus their mental energy on the conversation.
- Use a warm, clear, and calm voice. But always speak to your loved one with respect. Avoid “baby talk,” excessively loud and slow over-enunciating, and other kinds of condescension at all costs.
- Be extra-specific; avoid pronouns. Placing names in conversation rather than referring to “him,” “her,” and “they” will subtly jog your loved one’s memory and help keep them engaged.
- Narrow the scope of your conversation. Try to talk about one thing at a time, rather than jumping from subject to subject.
- Leverage body language. Use your body to send non-verbal cues that calm, encourage, and engage your loved one. Smile. Don’t narrow your eyes. Lift your eyebrows and nod. Don’t cross your arms or legs; keep your body open and relaxed. These cues all help put your loved one at ease, even during cloudy or confused moments.
- Listen actively. Keeping active in the conversation even when you’re listening helps anchor your loved one in the moment. For example, you can politely ask for clarification if you don’t understand a point your loved one is making. This will keep them engaged and present, whereas simply allowing them to speak in a one-way exchange encourages digression and loss of focus.
- Don’t bother bickering. Your conversations won’t go very far if you stop to correct every misstatement your loved one makes. Be patient.
Non-Medical In-Home Care For Dementia In Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
On behalf of Always Best care Fox Chapel, we hope those tips help you win more lucid moments with your loved one.
Always Best Care Senior Services provides senior care in Fox Chapel, communities of Oakmont, Fox Chapel, Plum, New Kensington, Cheswick, Verona, Penn Hills, Aspinwall, Blawnox, Glenshaw, Gibsonia, Allison Park, Russelton, Dorseyville, and beyond.