It is estimated that there are around 850,000 people living with dementia in the UK, and 1 in 6 people aged 80 or over have dementia, so there is a good chance that you know someone with dementia, or you are caring for someone with dementia yourself.
So the question is, are you able to communicate effectively with someone living with dementia?
If you are having problems with communication or are unsure on how to tackle conversations with a loved one living with dementia then read below to find out some top tips.
● Acknowledge what the person has said. Even if they don’t answer your question, express that you’ve heard them and encourage them to say more about their answer. Try to ask open ended questions rather than closed questions.
● Using physical signs and body language can convey meaning and help get messages across, especially when speaking becomes more difficult also use gestures, movements and facial expressions.
● Use humour, laughing can help to bring you closer together and may relieve the pressure. Everyone’s at their happiest when they are laughing with their loved ones.
● Being an active listener is very important, this may be something you have to learn along the journey. But this next step will help engagement with someone with dementia and will become a lot easier. Look for non-verbal cues such as facial expressions and body language to try and understand what they are trying to tell you.
● Let the person express their feelings. This means if the person is feeling sad, do not try and persuade them away from that feeling. By showing you care through listening to them is sometimes the best method of communicating. Again, it comes down to speech, as this is not always the answer.
● To reassurance someone physical contact is the best method. 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.
● Instead of using speech, use visual clues. This involves writing down your messages or by using objects or pictures to help the person understand could help alleviate a breakdown in communication.
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 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 have any more questions regarding dementia, or if you would like to find out more information regarding our services to help a loved one living with dementia then please contact us on 0114 250 7709.
6 Shirley House, Psalter Lane, Sheffield, South Yorkshire, S11 8YL