Communicating with a senior loved one struggling with the difficulties of Alzheimer’s, especially in the middle and later stages, is often discouraging – both for you personally as well as for the senior loved one. Brain changes impact the capacity to hear, process, and respond appropriately to conversations, and it is up to us to implement innovative dementia communication techniques to better connect with a senior loved one with dementia.
The good news is, it is quite a bit easier than it may seem. We already communicate nonverbally in lots of ways:
- Posture and body movement
- Eye contact
- Facial expressions
- Personal space
Try out these dementia communication techniques to integrate increased nonverbal communication in your interactions with a loved one:
- Offer support through caring touch. If a senior loved one is comfortable with touch, hold and pat the senior’s hand, massage the senior’s back, place an arm around his or her shoulders, and give warm hugs.
- Look the senior in the eye. Eye contact shows interest in the individual, even when no words are said aloud.
- Honor personal boundaries. Refrain from overwhelming your loved one by permitting sufficient personal space, and making sure you’re at the same level as the individual, never towering over her or him. Your face should be at eye level with the older adult.
- Maintain a calm, patient, and positive demeanor. Suppress any anger, annoyance or impatience, and focus on sustaining a relaxed and pleasant expression on your face when with a loved one with dementia. If this is impossible because of challenging behaviors, step away momentarily and practice deep breathing or other relaxation techniques. For example:
- Square breathing: Use a finger to trace the shape of a square in front of you. When drawing the first side, breathe in deeply for a count of three; for the following side, hold your breath for one second; for the third side, breathe out for a count of three; and for the fourth side, hold your breath for one second. Repeat as necessary.
- Calming phrase repetition: A couple examples to help you get started: This will pass, and things are ok. I’m able to manage this. I am secure and well.
- Distracted thinking: Practice concentrated refocusing. Try saying the alphabet backwards, stating as many state capitals as possible, or singing the words to a well-liked song.
Find more creative dementia communication strategies by contacting Responsive Home Care, the top rated providers of home health services in Pembroke, FL and the surrounding area. Our care providers are specially trained in the most up-to-date Alzheimer’s care techniques, and we are always available to help a loved one with dementia to remain safe and calm, and to enjoy life to his/her fullest possible potential. Reach out to us at 954-486-6440 any time for assistance.