Communication can be a lot more than simply the words we say to one another. A grin, gesture, or touch can communicate volumes. As dementia progresses in a loved one, it may well become necessary to experiment with different techniques to stay connected. If you’re unsure where you can start, try these tips:
Body Language and Movement
Imagine seeing a businessperson dashing along the sidewalk, shuffling papers in a folder or gripping a cell phone firmly in one hand while making exaggerated gestures with the other hand. It is reasonable to assume that individual is under some pressure, overwhelmed, and feeling rushed.
Now visualize a person swaying slowly back and forth while cradling an infant in their arms. The emotions communicated are of peace, calm, and comfort.
Keep in mind your personal body language during your interactions with a loved one with dementia, being careful not to show anger, impatience, or frustration. Slow, calm motions, with a comforting facial expression, will express to the person with dementia that everything is okay.
Eye contact lets others see that you are being attentive to them, and that whatever they have to say to you is important. For somebody with dementia, this should include approaching the person from the front so there are no surprises, and keeping your face at their eye level. Try to avoid getting too close, which is often intimidating, but instead respect their personal space.
Patting or holding the senior’s hand, hugging them, shaking hands, or giving a light back rub are wonderful ways to show love or reassurance, but make certain these types of physical affection are welcomed. A loved one with dementia who’s not at ease with being touched can become distressed and aggravated, or may feel as if they are condescending expressions. Watch out for any negative responses and immediately stop any further physical touch if noted.
Even if the senior no longer understands the words you’re saying, the tone of voice you use can frequently still be understood. Talk in a tranquil tone at a volume that is neither too loud nor too soft. The individual might also enjoy hearing you sing familiar songs, or even just humming. Again, pay attention to cues from the senior to ensure your voice is not provoking displeasure.
At Home With You Senior Care, our Manchester, MD caregivers are specially trained in innovative methods of communicating and interacting with individuals with Alzheimer’s disease along with other types of dementia.
We’re always here to provide additional tips and information, as well as the in-home respite care that gives you the opportunity to step away for self-care whenever needed. Looking after yourself is key to taking proper care of a senior you love with dementia, and with Home With You Senior Care on your side, we can help you make Alzheimer’s caregiving easier so that both you and the senior you love will benefit.