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How Do You Talk To Someone With Dementia

Dont Ask A Person With Short

How to Talk to Someone With Dementia

A patient and/or loved one can construe even the simplest of conversation starters as a real question,;but they honestly dont know the answer to it. This can be embarrassing and can send them back into a fogthey try their best to give an answer that makes sense to them and often produce immediate physical concerns: I’m having a lot of pain,;for example.;A caregiver and/or family member;might ask, What did you have for breakfast? and;the person with memory loss doesn’t remember at all. They might say earnestly, I haven’t had anything to eat for weeks, . So these are questions to avoid because it causes fear for the person, that they have failed. But there things you;can talk about

Conversation Starters For Seniors With Dementia

One of the scariest things a person can learn is that their parent, grandparent, or other close person has dementia. The moment a diagnosis is made, it can feel as though the world turns upside down. You go from being confident in your ability to take care of them to wondering if they may need assisted living care. It is scary and confusing. You want to help but may feel inadequate. The truth is, you and other family members can help your loved one adjust to the changes that they are facing just by being there for them. For instance, when they start to lose focus or get overwhelmed by a situation, you can re-ground them. It will eliminate their stress and yours. The best way to do this is to learn about different conversation starters for seniors with dementia or memory loss.

Speak Naturally And Use Gestures

Its important to speak clearly, simply, and in complete sentences, while using a calm and friendly voice to talk to someone with dementia.

Besides using your voice, try to communicate using your body, incorporating subtle movements. Demonstrate your meaning with visual cues or gestures. For example, if you say, Lets go for a walk, use an arm motion with your invitation.

Read Also: Is There A Support Group For Dementia

Make The Conversation Low

Speaking of questions, I always try to word everything in a way that makes it ok if the person Im asking doesnt have an answer. Instead of Why did you, I use Why do you think to start questions. Using Do you remember also works well although I try not to use it too often. I dont want my loved one to feel bad if she is constantly answering no.

Another way to keep the conversation going is to bring up a favorite memory you have of the past. You can bring up a couple key details and then pause to see if your loved one will fill in a few more.

Do Not Ignore Physical Abuse

10 Communication Strategies for Dementia Care

As much as one needs to be tolerant, kind, forgiving, and patient with older adults who have dementia, it does not mean that they have to excuse the patients when they become physically aggressive and allow the abuse to continue. It is not to be accepted, and if it happens, it is best to alert your doctor who will work on the solution to make sure it stops. It will keep both the patient and caregiver in safety.

From physical manifestations to angry outbursts, taking care of an individual with dementia may not be easy. However, working with the tips above can help caregivers and loved ones to get through it. Remember that there are plenty of treatments, interventions and special care providers who can help; therefore, you should never be shy about getting help when you need it.

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Tips For A Healthy And Active Lifestyle For People With Dementia

Eating healthy and staying active is good for everyone and is especially important for people with Alzheimers and related dementias. As the disease progresses, finding ways for the person to eat healthy foods and stay active may be increasingly challenging. Here are some tips that may help:

  • Consider different activities the person can do to stay active, such as household chores, cooking and baking, exercise, and gardening. Match the activity to what the person can do.
  • Help get an activity started or join in to make the activity more fun. People with dementia may lack interest or initiative and can have trouble starting activities. But, if others do the planning, they may join in.
  • Add music to exercises or activities if it helps motivate the person. Dance to the music if possible.
  • Be realistic about how much activity can be done at one time. Several short mini-workouts may be best.
  • Take a walk together each day. Exercise is good for caregivers, too!
  • Buy a variety of healthy foods, but consider food that is easy to prepare, such as premade salads and single portions.
  • Give the person choices about what to eat, for example, Would you like yogurt or cottage cheese?

Do Try To Be Pleasant

Caregivers are also humans who are prone to emotions like anger, stress, impatience, and irritation. Even when one goes through caregiver burnout, it is best that the patient does not get wind of it. It is better to step out of the room and try some breathing exercises to calm down before going back to deal with the dementia patient. Where possible, shelve the bad feelings and try and deal with them later. Dementia patients deal with a lot and they do not need more on their plate if they are to lead fulfilling and happy lives.

Read Also: What Type Of Genetic Disorder Is Alzheimer’s

Put Present And Past Together To Understand The Other Persons Reality

The more that you know about the key stories, people and themes of a persons life the better you become at interpreting meaning. If you are puzzled by a response, think about what the person has just been experiencing before your conversation, and think about what you know about the persons past and see if you can make a connection.

Greetings Or Verbal Handshake

How to Talk to Someone with Dementia

Think beforehand about how you are going to greet the person. Do they know who you are? They may not know you even though you know them well. Think about whether you need to say your name or whether a warm hello will suffice. A warm, friendly approach is important in creating a relaxed atmosphere for a conversation to start and develop.

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Be Open To A Range Of Possibilities

We often go into situations with set ideas of what we want to speak about or what we expect to hear and we try to switch the conversation quickly to the topic we have in mind. At the beginning of a communication, take your lead from the person with dementia. Dont try to switch topics too soon. In allowing the conversation to develop, give the person time to say what is on their mind. When the person says x they mean y .

Be aware that as word finding becomes more difficult for the person with dementia the content of speech becomes more limited. So, for example, a female name such as Julie may come to represent every female helper rather than referring to Julie in person. A reference to needing my mum may mean that the person is feeling scared and unattached rather than a literal question needing a literal answer about the whereabouts of the persons mother.

How Alzheimers Affects Communication

I knew that the first step to easier video chatting with my grandma was to understand what was causing her difficulties in the first place.

Alzheimers disease is much more than memory loss. Its believed to account for 60 to 80 percent of cases of dementia.

Its also a neurodegenerative disease with a wide array of symptoms, including visual-perceptual changes. On top of that, it often involves difficulties with problem-solving, speaking, writing, orientation, and otherwise familiar tasks.

All of these symptoms mean that for someone with Alzheimers, talking over the phone or video can be disorienting. They can no longer rely on nonverbal cues to help them communicate.

They may not even understand that they can interact with the screen or that its you on the screen in the first place.

Kari Burch, OTD, an occupational therapist at Memory Care Home Solutions, has been providing telehealth to people with Alzheimers since the beginning of the pandemic.

According to Burch, there are specific symptoms that make telecommunication challenging. These include:

  • reduced language processing skills
  • slower processing times in general
  • reduced patience and increased irritability
  • disorientation and confusion
  • difficulty navigating technology

If its difficult to comprehend what youre saying, its difficult to interact and answer questions appropriately, Burch says.

Combined with the frustration and confusion of memory loss, the entire experience may be especially challenging.

Read Also: What’s Lewy Body Dementia

Emotions And Touch Awareness

How does the person look? What emotions are they showing? Being sensitive to the persons mood can offer an opportunity to begin a conversation . Does the person respond to touch in a positive way? A light touch on the back of the hand can often feel reassuring and non-threatening. If the person moves their hand away from you, take your cue from them and be careful how you use touch. If the person takes the opportunity to clasp your hand this may be an indication that they need more physical reassurance and support. With people who are quite withdrawn, a gentle touch on the cheek can be a way of getting them to look at you. Again be sensitive to their reaction to the touch and take your lead from them.

What Are Nonverbal Dementia Communication Techniques

What NOT to Say to Someone With Dementia

There are many different types of nonverbal communication, including:

1. Facial expressionsYour face can express emotions without saying a word. And many facial expressions are the same across cultures, like happiness, sadness, anger, surprise, fear, and disgust.

2. Body movements and postureThe way someone moves and carries themselves can say a lot about them, their mood, and their state of mind.

3. GesturesWhen we talk, we use gestures without even thinking about it waving, pointing, and using our hands when were angry or excited.

4. Eye contactFor people who can see, vision is the dominant sense. Thats why eye contact is so important.

The way you look at someone can say a lot. Plus, eye contact helps you see the other persons engagement level and reactions.

5. TouchTouch is another way to speak without using words.

For example, these mean very different things: a limp handshake, a gentle shoulder tap, a warm hug, a reassuring pat on the back, a patronizing pat on the head, or a controlling grip on the arm.

6. SpaceEveryone needs some physical space, though how much may vary for each person and situation.

For example, standing too close can make someone uncomfortable. But staying at too far a distance could seem uncaring or uninterested.

7. VoiceThe tone and volume of your voice adds a lot of meaning to words.

For example, imagine saying fine during a heated argument compared to saying it when youre happy and content. The same word sounds completely different.

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Tips For Listening To A Person With Dementia

  • Listen carefully to what the person is saying. Offer encouragement both verbally and non-verbally, for example by making eye contact and nodding. This active listening can help improve communication.
  • The persons body language can show a lot about their emotions. The expression on their face and the way they hold themselves can give you clear signals about how they are feeling when they communicate.
  • If you havent fully understood what the person has said, ask them to repeat it. If you are still unclear, rephrase their answer to check your understanding of what they meant.
  • If the person with dementia has difficulty finding the right word or finishing a sentence, ask them to explain it in a different way. Listen and look out for clues. If they cannot find the word for a particular object, ask them to describe it instead.
  • Allow the person plenty of time to respond it may take them longer to process the information and work out their response.
  • Try not to interrupt the person even to help them find a word as it can break the pattern of communication.
  • If the person is upset, let them express their feelings. Allow them the time that they need, and try not to dismiss their worries sometimes the best thing to do is just listen, and show that you are there.

How to communicate

Do Try And Identify The Trigger That Causes Behavior Change

After spending some time with a patient who has dementia, caregivers may be in a position to identify some of the things that make dementia sufferers yell, get physical, or change their mood. For some, it may be something simple such as taking a bath or even getting dressed.

The best approach to handle this is not to force the patient to do something that they do not want to do. Try and distract them with something else that allows them to relax and calm down. Once they are not a danger to themselves or anyone around them, try going back to the subject, but this time reassuringly and calmly.

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Think About How The Person May Be Feeling

Try to put yourself in their shoes or seat. What is their emotional state likely to be? Are they relaxed and happy or anxious and distressed? Are they calm or frightened? Are they likely to respond to humour or are they angry and frustrated? You may be aware of whats been happening to them prior to your conversation. If not, try to find out so you can think about your approach.

Use Visual Aids And Other Prompts

How to talk on the phone to someone with dementia?

Having some key words or pictures on cards in front of you can really help people with dementia stay focused. They will often struggle to keep the topic of the conversation in mind as the conversation progresses. Having pictures or objects in front of you will help. For example, if the conversation is about medication, have the medication on the table or use a picture of someone receiving medication there.

Music offers another way to communicate. It can lift a persons mood and allow them to express their emotions. For more information on the benefits of music, see the Creative arts feature in Keeping active and occupied.

Read Also: Can You Die From Alzheimer Dementia

Tips For Having The Talk With A Parent About Dementia Symptoms

Adult children;commonly have a hard time broaching the subject of dementia with a loved one. Ruth Drew, Director of Family and Information Services at the Alzheimers Association, says, I think people are worried about hurting a family relationship or upsetting people that they care about.

Drew also says that broaching the topic early helps everyone. When you know what youre dealing with upfront, then you can plan, she adds. The person can have a voice in what happens next.

If your loved one is exhibiting dementia symptoms, it is crucial to have the talk with him or her as soon as possible.

Here are six;tips for talking with someone you love about dementia:

Do Make Sure That The Dementia Patient Gets Enough Rest Food And Water

Fatigue, hunger and thirst may cause combativeness. Ensure that the person with dementia is well fed, hydrates enough, and gets adequate sleep and rest. In line with this, they should also have enough bathroom breaks. Research also shows that it may help to reduce loud noises as well as clutter in the space where the patient spends most of his/her time, as both loud noises and clutter tend to over-stimulate people with dementia.

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How To Offer Help To Someone With Dementia Who Doesnt Want It

Do you know a person with dementia or memory problems who is refusing offers of help? Here are a few ways to support someone who may be in denial about their situation.

It is common for someone living with dementia to deny that they are experiencing issues with their memory or other aspects of cognition.

This could be due to denial or lack of insight.;Similar to denial, lack of insight means that a person with dementia is unable to recognise changes in their behaviour and personality.

Continued denial can cause problems in the person’s future. They may refuse;to accept help, there could be delays in starting or stopping medication, or;they may continue to drive despite it not being safe for them to do so.

Essential Dos And Donts For Visiting Someone With Alzheimers

How to talk to someone with dementia
  • Keep your tone and body language;friendly and positive.
  • Dont speak too loudly.
  • Make eye contact and stay at their eye level.
  • Introduce yourself even if youre sure they must know you. Hi Grandma, Im Joe, your grandson.
  • Speak slowly and in short sentences with only one idea per sentence. For example: Hi Mary. Im Jane, your friend. or What a beautiful day. The sunshine is nice, isnt it? or Tell me about your daughter.
  • Give them extra time to speak or answer questions, dont rush the conversation.
  • Use open-ended questions because there are no right or wrong answers.
  • Be ok with sitting together in silence. They may enjoy that just as much as talking.
  • Follow their lead, dont force conversation topics or activities.
  • Validate their feelings. Allow them to express sadness, fear, or anger.
  • Enter their reality. Go with the flow of the conversation even if they talk about things that arent true or dont make sense.
  • of the past. Theyre more likely to remember things from long ago.
  • Come prepared with an activity, like something to read out loud, a photo album to look at, or some of their favorite music to listen to.
  • Give hugs, gentle touches, or massage arms or shoulders if the person gives permission and enjoys it.
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