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6 Ways to Enhance Communication with a Parent Who Has Dementia

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As your loved one’s dementia progresses, it may become increasingly difficult to communicate with him or her. Understanding how to effectively engage and interact can make it easier to enjoy quality time with your loved one as symptoms that may initially include mild forgetfulness transition into more noticeable forms of cognitive impairment. Below you’ll find six effective tips for communicating with someone with dementia.

1. Minimize Distractions

Seniors with dementia tend to be easily distracted by other things in their immediate environments, which can make communication difficult. Minimize distractions in your loved one’s surroundings as much as possible to avoid sensory overload by:

  • Turning the TV down or off
  • Adjusting the curtains if there’s too much light in the room
  • Limiting the number of people in the room when you’re trying to have a more meaningful conversation

Trained caregivers with experience in caring for seniors with dementia can be a fantastic resource for family members. Families looking for top-rated Winnipeg elder care providers can reach out to Home Care Assistance. From respite care to specialized Alzheimer’s, dementia, stroke, and Parkinson’s care, there are many ways we can make life easier for seniors and their loved ones.

2. Speak Calmly and Clearly (but Still Naturally)

Just because dementia has caused your loved one to have difficulty articulating his or her thoughts doesn’t mean he or she can’t comprehend what you’re saying. It can be helpful if you speak calmly and clearly, but it’s just as important that you speak naturally. Avoid things like “baby talk” or other methods of communication that can be unintentionally insulting or demeaning.

3. Don’t Quibble Over Minor Details

There may be times when your loved one gets facts wrong or gets confused about dates, places, and people. It’s fine to gently correct your loved one now and then if you notice certain errors he or she is repeatedly making, but avoid quibbling over minor inaccuracies. All this does is create mutual frustration.

Professional caregivers with training and expertise in dementia care can often identify the sources of seniors’ communication issues and respond effectively and compassionately. For dementia care Winnipeg families can count on, reach out to Home Care Assistance. Our compassionate caregivers use revolutionary memory care programs to help seniors stave off the progression of dementia, and they can also assist with a wide variety of important everyday tasks, including bathing, grooming, exercise, and cooking.

4. Use Precise Names for People and Things

Saying things like “Could you hand that to me, please?” or “Hi! It’s me. Are you ready to eat?” can be too vague for someone with dementia. Instead, use specific names for people and things so it’s perfectly clear what or whom you are referring to. The above examples might be rephrased as:

“Could you hand me the newspaper on the table next to you, please?”

“Hi, Mom! It’s me, Angie. Are you ready to have dinner now?”

5. Listen and Focus

Getting into the habit of focusing on your loved one as you have conversations gives you a chance to look at his or her expressions to see if he or she is really understanding you. At the same time, you can politely let your loved one know if you don’t fully understand something he or she is trying to convey.

6. Be Patient

People with dementia often have good and bad days in terms of how well they’re able to express themselves or comprehend what’s being said. On the more challenging days, be patient and give your loved one a moment to process what you’re saying. If you notice your loved one having difficulty, rephrase your question or provide a few choices to minimize confusion (e.g., “Would you like to take a bath or shower today?”).

Caring for a senior loved one can be challenging for families who don’t have expertise or professional training in home care, but this challenge doesn’t have to be faced alone. Family caregivers can turn to Home Care Assistance for the help they need. We provide high-quality live-in and respite care as well as comprehensive Alzheimer’s, dementia, stroke, and Parkinson’s care. Call one of our dedicated Care Managers today at (204) 489 6000 to learn about the high quality of our in-home dementia care services.