Caring for a loved one with any form of dementia can be incredibly difficult for all involved. While the onset may have someone forgetting minor details, the progression can leave that same person forgetting what day it is or even not knowing family members. It can be very frustrating when trying to communicate with a dementia patient but there are some strategies that may make the process less taxing.
- Avoid Distractions – People suffering from dementia have a hard enough time remembering things. When having a conversation with them, find a time and a place where there will be minimal distractions. This allows them to focus all their attention on your conversation.
- Speak Clearly and Naturally – While patience may wear thin during the conversation, it is important that the frustration doesn’t come through in your voice. Dementia patients can detect this frustration and blame themselves for doing something wrong, inducing feelings of stress and sadness.
- Refer to People by Name – Avoid using pronouns like “he”, “she”, and “they”. It is important to use people’s names during conversations even when referring to yourself. This helps the person identify who is being talked about.
- Don’t Constantly Correct – As the disease progresses, patients are more and more likely to make inaccurate statements. Don’t feel the need to correct everything they say.
- Limit Conversations to One Thing at a Time – People suffering with dementia may not have the mental ability to switch between multiple topics. Keep conversations limited to a single topic in order for ease of understanding.
- Be Understanding – While it is more likely than not that dementia will be a downward spiral, understand that there will be good and bad days. Enjoy the good days, making the most of them and accept the bad days, having patience and understanding.
While having a loved one diagnosed with dementia can be devastating, learning how to cope with the disease can greatly improve the time you have left with them.
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