Initiating and maintaining conversations with individuals with dementia can be challenging. Whether it’s a personal loved one or a patient you care for with dementia, good communication skills help you build a positive relationship. It will also enhance your ability to handle any difficult behaviors you may encounter as you care for a person with dementia. The communication style will vary by person and may need to change at different stages of dementia.
As a trusted provider of home care in Illinois, Dimensions Home Health Care has a lot of experience caring for seniors diagnosed with dementia. We’d like to share a few tips on communicating with someone you care for with dementia:
- Look directly at the individual when you speak. You may want to sit down to get to eye-level, rather than standing above him or her.
- Speak slowly and calmly, using short simple words, being aware that your energy and body language can change moods.
- Limit distractions when you talk to your loved one (or patient) with dementia. Turn TVs, phones, and other devices down or off.
- Practice good listening skills, giving your loved one (or patient) plenty of time to respond.
- Don’t interrupt, but let them interrupt you – they might forget what they are trying to say.
- Speak lovingly, but avoid speaking to your loved one (or patient) as if he or she is a child. And never talk about them to others as if they are not in the room.
- DO NOT argue with them, try to validate their feelings. (“I see you’re upset. How can I help you?)
- Look for non-verbal cues (facial and body movements).
- Respond with affection and reassurance – your loved one (or patient) may feel confused, anxious, and unsure of themself.
- Break down activities into a series of steps – this makes many tasks much more manageable.
- Use humor whenever possible. People with dementia tend to retain their social skills and are usually delighted to laugh along with you.
Don’t worry if you make a few mistakes, communicating with each patient is an ongoing journey to build a relationship. Be gracious to yourself as well as your patient.
Dimensions Home Health Care is dual-licensed in IL and WI. We offer high quality skilled nursing and dementia care. If you want to learn more about our home health care in Gurnee, Illinois, and surrounding areas, give us a call at 847-360-7660 to get in touch!