Before dementia, it’s easy to talk to the person you love. Now that their understanding slowly fades away, it becomes harder to communicate. Here are 5 useful tips on talking to someone with dementia.
- Do not do “baby talks” with them.
Treating an elder with dementia as an infant will do no good. Instead, treat him or her with honor and use a respectful tone of voice regardless of how much he or she can or cannot understand.
- Give gentle touches to get their attention.
Most dementia patients appreciate gentle touch though there are some who might be defensive. Consider giving a little pat on their shoulders or hold their hands as you talk to them. These gentle touches convey that you care.
- Do not yell at them even if they have hearing problems.
Always speak in a normal tone of voice to start a conversation. Once you find out that he/she has a hearing problem, you can increase your volume gradually until he/she can hear.
- Be literal, refrain from using figures of speech.
A person with dementia cannot fully understand everything we say to them in an instant. Be patient in explaining things to them and refrain from using deep sentences that has a complex meaning to it. An example is “Break a leg”. This may mean literally breaking a leg to them. (We do not want this, do we?)
- Smile and make eye contact.
A pleasant non-verbal communication plays a big role in connecting to a person with dementia. By projecting a genuine smile and eye contact, you may give them a sense of reassurance and security. You can make them feel that you are glad to be with him/her with these 2 basic gestures.
Your loved one with dementia has special needs. A memory care home provides a quality life despite the challenges of mental illness.
Also see: Understanding Memory Care