Communication can be more than just the words we say to one another. A grin, gesture, or touch can communicate a great deal. As dementia advances in a loved one, it might become essential to experiment with various approaches to stay connected. If you are not sure where to start, try these dementia care communication strategies:
Body Positioning and Movement
Picture seeing a businessperson dashing along the sidewalk, shuffling papers in a folder or clutching a mobile phone firmly in one hand while making exaggerated gestures with the other hand. You can guess that individual is under great pressure, stressed, and feeling rushed.
Now visualize a person swaying gently back and forth while cradling an infant in their arms. The emotions communicated are of peace, calm, and comfort.
Be mindful of your own personal body movements during your interactions with a senior with Alzheimer’s, being careful not to communicate frustration, anger, or impatience. Slow, relaxed motions, with a kind facial expression, will convey to the person with dementia that all is safe and well.
Eye contact lets other people know that you’re being attentive to them, and therefore what they have to communicate with you is important. For someone with dementia, this should include approaching the individual from the front so as not to surprise them, and keeping your face at their eye level. Refrain from getting too close, which can be intimidating, but rather respect their personal space.
Patting or holding the senior’s hand, giving a hug, shaking hands, or offering a gentle back rub are great ways to communicate love or support, but make certain these types of physical affection are welcomed. A loved one with dementia who is not at ease with being touched can become agitated and aggravated, or may feel as if they are condescending expressions. Watch out for any unfavorable responses and quickly refrain from any more physical touch if noted.
Even if the senior no longer understands the words you’re saying, the tone of voice you use can often still be understood. Talk in a soothing tone at a volume that’s neither too loud nor too quiet. The individual might also enjoy hearing you sing familiar tunes, or even just humming. Again, pay attention to cues from the senior to ensure your voice isn’t provoking displeasure.
At Grace Home Care, our experts in senior care in Topeka, KS are uniquely trained in innovative approaches to communicate and interact with those with Alzheimer’s disease along with other types of dementia.
We’re always here to offer further dementia care tips and information, along with the in-home respite care that provides you with the opportunity to step away for some self-care when you need it. Taking good care of yourself is vital to taking proper care of a senior you love with dementia, and with Grace Home Care by your side, both you and the senior you love will benefit.