When your loved one has dementia, communicating with them may become challenging. Unfortunately, as dementia is progressive, communication usually becomes more difficult with time. Your loved one may experience the inability to understand or express their thoughts, which can be very frustrating and overwhelming for them and yourself. Having the right strategies for communicating with your loved one can go a long way toward helping the relationship remain positive and ensure that your family member is feeling loved and safe.
Try to not correct them
Each case of dementia or Alzheimer’s is different and will affect everyone differently. Some may experience issues with language and finding the right words to express themselves, while others might confuse the details of what they did today with something they did years ago.
When confusion occurs, it is usually best to look past it. For example, if your loved asks for salt and points at the sugar, even though you know they meant to say sugar, it is best not to correct them and hand them the sugar. Living with dementia is already a struggle — understanding and giving your loved one some grace in these situations will go a long way.
Someone with memory loss will often ask repetitive questions. Your loved one may have a concern that they feel is not being addressed, and they may ask about it repeatedly because often they cannot remember asking about it. The goal here is not to make them stop asking the questions but rather to address their worry or concern whenever possible so that the issue will no longer bother them.
Don’t ask them short-term questions
Frequently dementia would affect the short-term memory, so while your loved one may remember memories from a really long time ago, they might not be able to remember if they ate breakfast or had a shower that morning. If you ask them a question about something that happened recently – like what they had for breakfast – they might say that they have not eaten for days. While it may appear nonsensical, your loved one may truly believe that and trying to remember or figure out what happened that morning can make them frustrated or even embarrassed.
It may be better for your relationship and communication if you avoid those kinds of questions as much as possible.
Watch your tone
A person with memory loss may struggle to make sense of the words you are speaking, but they will remain sensitive to the tone you are using. If you are speaking to them in a harsh or angry tone, they will be aware of this, and it will likely make them more confused and even unsure of how to react. However, if you speak to them in an affectionate and loving tone, they are much more likely to feel safe with you, even if they are unsure of who you are or cannot make sense of what you are saying.
Use short sentences
Sometimes a complex thought or a sentence can be too much for someone living with dementia. If you can ask them questions that require a yes or a no answer or just use simple words in talking to them, then you may find it’s easier to keep communicating with your loved one.
While communicating with a loved one with dementia or memory loss may be challenging, by trying different communication strategies, you can reduce the frustration and help maintain a strong relationship. If you have concerns about your loved one, you should always contact their doctor and set up an appointment to discuss their situation.
How VERA Home Care can help
Caring for a loved one with dementia can be extremely stressful for a family caregiver. Having a home care worker come in on a regular basis can be a positive experience for both the caregiver and the person with dementia. At VERA Home Care, our home care professionals are experienced in working with memory care patients and can help create a safe environment for them.
Call us today to learn more!