When communicating with someone with dementia, there are many things to consider. Talking isn’t always the most effective method. There are times when communication consists of much more than just verbal conversation.
Here are some ideas to help with communication:
● Always listen and acknowledge what the person has said. Even if they do not answer your question, express that you have heard them and encourage them to say more about their answer.
● Use gestures, movement and facial expressions. Physical signs and body language can all convey meaning and help get messages across, especially when speaking becomes more difficult. A beaming smile and a nodding head can encourage interaction.
● Use Humour. Laughing can help to bring you closer together, and may relieve the pressure. This could be simply telling a funny anecdote or showing an amusing snippet on YouTube.
● Become an active listener. Listening is a very important aspect of engaging with someone with dementia. Look for non-verbal cues such as facial expressions and body language to try and understand what they are trying to tell you. Give them time do not try and guess what they are trying to tell you.
● Let the person express their feelings. If the person is feeling sad, don’t try and persuade them away from that feeling. Showing you care by just listening is sometimes the best method of communicating.
● Use physical contact to provide reassurance. Holding or patting the person's hand or putting your arm around them might be all that is needed to let them know you are there for them.
● Use visual clues. Writing your messages down or using objects or pictures to help the person understand could help alleviate a breakdown in communication.
●Use music. Music is a powerful means of breaking down barriers. A tranquil piece of music can soothe, de-stress and create a calm environment, while a faster paced song from someone’s childhood may boost spirit and evoke happy memories. Music provides a way to connect, even after verbal communication has become difficult. Encourage singing, clapping and tapping to the music.
Communication difficulties can be frustrating and upsetting for people with dementia as well as their carers and loved ones. Active listening, non-verbal communication, visual props, music and laughter are just a few ways to help alleviate some of the tensions you may experience when engaging with those living with dementia.
If you would like to speak to someone at Home Instead, please do not hesitate to get in touch. All you have to do is telephone me 01992666777 or write to me at Victoria.firstname.lastname@example.org