Getting A Message Through
Dementia Can Make Communicating A Difficult Process
One of the key components to problems solving is communication. So when dementia causes problems in the life of a victim and a caregiver, it would be helpful to sit down and talk it through. However, this may be very difficult or not possible at all.
In addition to memory problems, mood swings, personality changes and behavioral issues, dementia can gradually diminish a victimís ability to communicate. Not only do they have more difficulty in expressing their ideas and emotions, but they may also have trouble understanding what others are saying.
This puts more of the burden of successful communication on the shoulders of the caregivers. They have to hone their skills and adapt their techniques to fit the abilities of their loved one. They must also help the person with dementia to utilize the skills they still have.
When communicating, make sure there is adequate light on your face. Also, lighting that is even will help those seniors with poor vision.
Hone Your Skills
Over time, dementia can make communications between a victim and their caregiver very, very challenging. Here are some verbal changes that can lead to a communication breakdown.
- Repetition. The use of familiar words over and over, and repeating the same sentences.
- Inventing new words to describe familiar things.
- Difficulty in finding the right words to use, or in organizing words logically.
- Having difficulty staying focused and easily losing oneís train of thought.
- Bringing up inappropriate topics and the use of curse words.
- When speaking becomes too difficult, the victim may rely on hand gestures. Or the victim (and/or the caregiver) may choose to speak less often. Also, a bi-lingual victim may revert to speaking their native language.
Communicating with someone who is struggling with dementia can be difficult. Here are some suggestions for easing the process.
- Address the person by name to help you gain their attention. And tell them who you are.
- Attain and keep good eye contact.
- Donít be too quick to put words in their mouth. Give them time to think about and describe what is on their mind. Once they make an attempt to communicate, it may be okay to guess or try to help.
- Focus on the feelings. These are more important than the words, especially when words wonít come or the facts are distorted.
- Ask one question at a time, use simple words and sentences, talk slowly and clearly, and be patient when waiting for a response.
- Things to avoid - correcting, criticizing, interruptions and arguing.
(Sources: Alzheimerís Assn., Alzheimerís Assn., Family Caregiver Alliance)