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Communication Tips for Dementia Caregivers

The following article was written by Jane Byrne, Project Coordinator at FirstCare Nursing Homes.

Dementia patients have a hard time communicating because their brain efficiency is negatively impacted by the disease. And though the progression of dementia varies from one person to another, it is common for them to jumble through words and repeat stories over and over again.

Disorganized speech, losing track of words and thoughts, speaking new words and in different languages are also some of the things that makes it hard to talk with people suffering from dementia.

But that doesn’t mean there’s no way around this problem because they can still respond even if they have a hard time understanding things.

Read on to know how you can communicate smoothly with dementia patients!

Modulate your tone and voice

The first thing that you should consider is modulating your voice. Talk with someone who has dementia with a calm tone. Talking very loud or fast will only frustrate them and aggravate their anxiety. Control yourself even if it is hard to talk to them. Maintain a constant and mellow voice throughout your dialogue and make sure that your words are audible.

Set up the proper environment

Dementia patients easily get upset, disruptive, and cannot move on with a specific topic, which is why they lose their bearings and get a breakdown. You can, however, avoid this from happening by changing the setup of their environment.

If possible, change the wall paint to a lighter color and one that has simpler and fewer designs. Remove things that will stimulate their senses because these can stress them up. Also, spending time with them in a place where they always stay will also give a positive vibe to their environment.

Use present tense

It will greatly help if you speak with them using present tense as this is easier to understand compared to future and past tenses. The present tense reduces the chances of them getting confused because they don't have to remember things and forecast future and possible scenarios.

Eliminate distractions

Distractions are a big no-no to dementia patients because these can severely clog their memory. Whenever you’re talking with them, see to it that the television is turned off and there are no unnecessary noises around. Don’t spend lots of time talking with them in crowded places like groceries or malls.

Never argue

Dementia patients need loads of patience and understanding, which is why you don't need to argue with them. Never force them to remember things because this will just frustrate them even further. What you can do instead is redirect them to another topic.

Yes and no only

Whenever you ask a question, see to it that you're going to get a yes or no answer from them. Don't ask questions that require a lot of thought and reflection from them. Take note that dementia patients have a hard time organizing their thoughts.

Be straightforward as possible

Talk to them in a straightforward manner. This means that you should always face them and look at them whenever engaging in a conversation. Don’t go around in circles when explaining something. And see to it that your statements are conveyed in the simplest possible way.

Final thoughts

People suffering from dementia need lots of consistency which is why you should make it a habit to implement the tips mentioned in this article. Avoid distractions and overstimulation and always make them feel loved and accepted.

When you do all these, no doubt you’re going to have an easier and happier time with your dementia patient.