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6 Strategies for Talking to an Older Person with Dementia

By , 9:00 am on

Communicating with a senior loved one who has dementia can be frustrating. Some days, it may seem like your loved one is no longer there to talk to. Other times, your loved one may find it challenging to express his or her own thoughts and become angry or frustrated. Fortunately, there are some things you can do make it easier to communicate with a loved one who has dementia.

1. Treat Your Loved One Like an Adult

Above all, it’s important to remember your loved one still deserves to be treated with dignity. Even on those days when your loved one can’t communicate, you shouldn’t use baby talk or speak like he or she isn’t in the room. Don’t speak down to your loved one, and don’t talk loudly, assuming he or she can’t hear. Talk to your loved one like you would to anyone else, with a few minor modifications.

2. Communicate and Listen with Your Entire Body

Make eye contact. Smile and laugh when appropriate. Use a gentle touch to get your loved one’s attention or reassure him or her. In some cases, holding hands may help with communication and attention while adding some reassurance. It’s also important to listen actively. When your loved one speaks, continue making eye contact, smile, nod your head, and avoid fidgeting or multitasking.

There are a variety of age-related health conditions that can make it more challenging for seniors to live independently. However, many of the challenges they face can be easier to manage if their families opt for professional home care. You can rely on expertly trained caregivers to keep your loved one safe and comfortable while aging in place.

3. Keep Your Questions Simple

Answering questions and making choices can be difficult for people with dementia. For this reason, it’s important to simplify your questions. For instance, instead of asking your loved one what he or she wants for breakfast, ask if he or she would prefer oatmeal or eggs. Instead of asking what your loved one would like to do, ask if he or she wants to watch TV or go for a walk. Questions that require a simple yes or no response are also easier to answer. Never ask multiple questions at once. Stick to one topic or choice at a time.

4. Don’t Correct Everything

Your loved one may slip up, say something that isn’t accurate, and, at times, seem delusional. When that happens, just let it go. Correcting every little statement could frustrate both of you and lead to arguments.

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5. Be Patient and Positive

It’s difficult to stay positive when you feel like your loved one’s mind is slipping away, but being negative and impatient doesn’t benefit either of you. If you don’t feel like you can be positive and patient with your loved one at some point, walk away or ask for help from a friend or family member. Unless what you have to say is pressing, save it for when you’re in the right frame of mind. Always remember this isn’t easy for your loved one either. He or she is still a human being who deserves respect.

6. Communicate without Distractions

Distractions can make talking to someone with dementia difficult. Perhaps the TV is on or the grandkids are playing in the room and making too much noise. These sights and sounds can make it difficult for your loved one to concentrate on expressing him or herself or listening to what you have to stay. If necessary, move to a quieter space to communicate.

If you’re looking for reliable dementia care, Rocklin Home Care Assistance offers high-quality at-home care for seniors who are managing the challenges of cognitive decline. We offer a revolutionary program called the Cognitive Therapeutics Method (CTM), which uses mentally stimulating activities to boost cognitive health in the elderly. CTM has proven to help seniors with dementia regain a sense of pride and accomplishment and learn how to engage with others in an enjoyable way. Home Care Assistance will work with you to customize a care plan that’s just right for your loved one’s needs. Call us today at 916.226.3737 to discuss how we can give you the peace of mind that comes from knowing your loved one is being cared for with professionalism and compassion.