Tips for Communicating with Loved Ones with Dementia

At Find Us @ Home we understand how hard it can be to communicate with people who have Dementia. It is even harder when it is someone you love. Our clients are more than just clients to use at Find Us @ Home they’re our friends. It is never easy to ask the same thing multiple times and feel you aren’t being heard, or to be asked the same thing over and over as if it were the first time. Patience and understanding are key when interacting with our friends and family members who have Dementia. It is important not to draw their awareness of the fact that they are having trouble remembering or that the life they are living in their minds does not match reality. Trying to point out these facts simply overwhelms and confuses someone who is struggling with Dementia. It is easier to acknowledge their reality and redirect by countering with alternate ideas or suggestions. For example, Dementia patients may think they need to go to work even though they are no longer working. It is not beneficial to point out that they don’t have to work and haven’t worked in years. A better response would be “you don’t have work today, you have the day off and can just relax for the day.” This alleviates their concern of work and refocuses their attention on something else and the concerns of working will soon be forgotten. They may ask the same question repeatedly and it is easiest to keep giving the same response or some version of that response. Below are some basic tips that can help when dealing with someone afflicted with Dementia.

  • Listen to music. Music is stored on a different side of the brain than traditional memories such as past events i.e. vacations, weddings, parties, etc. Because of this Dementia does not affect one’s ability to recall their favorite songs and will often be a soothing experience transporting them to happier times.
  • Redirect. I mentioned it above and the power of redirecting cannot be overstated. It is simply the best way to motivate those suffering from Dementia and focus them in a more positive direction.
  • Continue routines. Routines and habits established before the Dementia hit should be established as much as possible in order to maintain a familiar and safe environment where they will feel comfortable.
  • Remain calm. Don’t get angry or upset, or at the very least don’t show that you are angry or upset. It can be extremely upsetting to see our loved ones in these states. It is extremely important that we don’t let that show as they will pick up on that mood and become agitated, anxious, and afraid.

Interacting with and caring for our loved ones as they go through this devastating disease can be almost as difficult as having the disease itself. Applying these simple tips will make it easier. Another great resource is support groups tailored to the families of Dementia patients, giving them a safe place to meet and share their experiences, troubles, and concerns with other likeminded individuals who are experiencing the same thing.

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