Written by Active Minds on Monday the 28th of September 2015.
Communication is important to everyone but, when a person is living with dementia, it can be the key to making them feel comfortable, safe and understood. If you care for, or have a loved one with dementia, here are some of the things you can do to make communication easier.
First things first, approach conversations calmly and in a relaxed manner. Your loved one will pick up on your body language and any tension or agitation you display might leave them feeling upset or confused. It’s also important to make and maintain eye contact. This will help you better gauge how your loved one is feeling as well as helping you to know that they are focused on you. If you feel like they aren’t focused, try getting rid of any distractions such as music playing or having the TV on.
You might find that you have to speak a little slower than you normally would, although remember not to be patronising. Avoid asking too much of a person with dementia; posing too many questions, asking them to make difficult decisions or rushing them for an answer will only cause communication to break down.
Most importantly, listen. If the person you are talking to is having difficulty communicating with you, try to understand how they might be feeling or what they might be trying to get across by paying attention to their body language or how they are saying something rather than to what they are saying specifically.
If talking becomes really difficult, either due to the progression of dementia, the side effects of medication or other factors, you might find that communication aids can help. Picture books can be useful for people with dementia who find it hard to recall the exact words they’re looking for, taking away frustration and giving them a sense of control over their own lives.