Seniors with dementia still enjoy having conversations with the people who love them. You may also need to ask your loved one questions to assess his or her comfort and health. Although your loved one may have difficulty comprehending and participating in conversations, you should still always treat him or her with respect. Often, seniors with dementia understand far more than they’re able to express. These tips for talking to someone with dementia can help you make the most of each chance you have to communicate with your loved one.
Check Out the Environment
Seniors with dementia may be easily distracted by other things in their environments. For instance, your loved one may suddenly lose focus if a television commercial starts blaring or another person walks into the room. Begin your conversations by trying to make the environment as calm as possible. Turn off noise-making appliances or even move your loved one to a quieter room so you can have his or her full attention as you speak.
Get on Your Loved One’s Level
Your loved one may also find it easier to understand what you’re saying if he or she can see your facial expressions and body movements. Always make sure you have your loved one’s attention by saying his or her name or with a gentle touch on the arm so your parent looks in your direction. You may also need to kneel down or move closer so your loved one can see you clearly. This tactic can keep your loved one engaged in the conversation, and you can pick up on subtle communication clues, such as seeing your loved one nod his or her head.
Use Short Sentences
Vocabulary and the ability to understand complicated sentences diminish over time when seniors have dementia. Try to use short sentences that are clear and to the point. If your loved one doesn’t understand the first time, you may need to rephrase the statement using even simpler words. Keep in mind this doesn’t mean you should use baby talk. Maintain a consistent and clear tone of voice as you speak to show your loved one respect and help him or her understand you better.
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Ask One Question at a Time
You may have a lot to cover with your loved one. However, it’s best to stick to one topic during the conversation to avoid confusion. You should also ask one question at a time so you know exactly which one is being answered. Your loved one may only be able to answer simple questions that require brief responses.
Provide Additional Time to Respond
Your ability to listen to your loved one is just as important as how you talk to him or her. When it’s your loved one’s turn to speak, make sure to allow more than an average amount of time to respond. In some cases, this pause may seem awkward or overly long, but it’s likely not. Giving your loved one enough time to form an answer and speak can help you check on his or her understanding and needs.
When they’re looking for reliable dementia home care, San Diego families can trust Coast Care Partners to provide high-quality at-home care for their senior loved ones who are managing the challenges of cognitive decline. If you need professional home care for your loved one, we’re just a phone call away. Reach out to us today at 619-354-2544.