Loved ones with dementia struggle to find words, form sentences and stay on track with a topic. Eventually, they lose the ability to communicate and may not understand what is being said to them. It is essential that caregivers adapt in order to stay connected.
Realize and accept that it takes lots of patience and understanding to be a dementia caregiver.
A simple touch can communicate warmth, connection, safety and love. This could be through hand holding or a comforting massage.
Create a calm environment, and minimize or eliminate distractions, such as TV.
Use a caring tone of voice and facial expressions. Persons with dementia are sensitive to the emotions of others and may mimic emotions like anger.
Simplify conversations and questions. Allow enough time for the person to understand and to respond.
Be reassuring if your loved one is having difficulty communicating or understanding.
Use gestures. A gentle touch to the person's arm can help communicate your message.
Persons with dementia often favor food that is soft in texture and sweet in taste.
Sing or play songs throughout the day that evoke pleasant memories. Music can decrease anxiety during personal care tasks, promote relaxation and prevent boredom. Hospice of the Valley is a certified member of Music and Memory™, a nonprofit bringing personalized music to the elderly or infirm.
Use photos, picture books, fond memories, music, or a favorite movie to engage. The focus is less about content and more about appealing to emotion. Provide a balance of calming and stimulating activities to enhance well-being.
Do not act as if the person is unable to understand what is being said. Never talk about the person as though he or she is not present.
Avoid asking the person to recall names, dates or other facts. Not knowing the answer may Be frustrating and embarrassing.
Ask questions that simply require a “yes” or “no” response.
Avoid confrontation, and do not argue. Do not try to correct the person or prove they are wrong about something.