Aging and transitioning into a new lifestyle can be a challenging process. The presence of dementia can add to that challenge. Finding the right community for your loved one is essential to ensuring they have a high quality of life.
Let’s look at how dementia can affect your loved one, including 10 tips for communicating with your loved one who has dementia.
What Is Dementia?
Dementia is a group of symptoms that severely affect memory, thinking, and social abilities. Dementia is caused by damage to or loss of nerve cells and their connections to the brain. While dementia is associated with memory loss, it’s not the sole symptom.
Among those at least 65 years of age, there is an estimated 5 million adults with dementia in 2014, with a projection of 14 million by 2060.
Dementia is a general term, and the symptoms can vary from person to person—people with dementia usually have problems with:
- Reason, judgment, and problem solving
People with dementia may struggle with daily activities such as dressing, cooking, and grooming.
A Memory care lifestyle is an excellent option for your loved one to help elevate their quality of life. A memory care lifestyle provides programs that promote the well-being of mind and body of your loved one while focusing on essential aspects of life such as:
Along with customized programs for your loved one’s wellbeing, memory care also provides comprehensive on-site amenities that include:
- Visiting primary care physicians
- Specially trained, compassionate staff
- Medication coordination and management
- Programs promoting socialization, engagement, and interaction
A memory care lifestyle helps ensure your loved one has the consistent, dedicated support they deserve.
10 Tips for Communicating with A Loved One with Dementia
Communicating with a loved one with dementia can be challenging and require some creativity. Let’s explore some tips to help make the process easier and more efficient.
#1 Be Patient
Dementia is a challenging disease to navigate and manage. Patience is essential when communicating with your loved one. Take the time to listen and allow your loved one to talk without interruption to fully express themselves.
#2 Use Repetition as Needed
Dementia can cause your loved one to have trouble finding the right words or substituting words to skew the meaning of what they’re trying to say.
Try to get used to repetition and repeating what you say over and over to help your loved one.
#3 Keep Communication Simple
As dementia progresses, it’s essential to use short sentences and keep things simple. Questions that require a yes or no answer can help make it easier on your loved one and not add unnecessary stress.
If you have requests, break them down into single steps that are easy to follow.
#4 Use Visual Communication
In the later stages of dementia, sometimes visual cues can promote better understanding than words. Rather than asking if your loved one needs to use the bathroom, you can take them to it and point at the toilet or shower.
#5 Be Respectful
An aspect of dementia is the mental toll it takes on your loved one, and their ability to communicate is affected.
Avoid using baby talk and talking about your loved one as if they aren’t there. It’s essential to ensure your loved one is respected and treated like an adult.
#6 Offer Comfort
Comforting your loved one can seem obvious but ensuring they have support when struggling with communication is essential. Your loved one will be very vulnerable, so it’s vital to let them know it’s okay and provide gentle encouragement.
#7 Ask for Help
There’s no shame in asking for help—the dedicated staff at your loved one’s memory care community can help you in the communication process. Other family members can also help you and make it a team effort to provide the support your loved one needs and deserves.
Being there for your loved one is crucial—getting help can help you approach them in a healthy and safe way.
#8 Be Connected
Connecting with your loved one through touch and maintaining eye contact can be very comforting for them. Holding their hand while talking can relax them and allow them to feel at home.
#9 Help Your Loved One Maintain Structure & Familiarity
As dementia progresses, your loved one’s schedule will inevitably change. Help your loved one keep consistent times for meals, dressing, and bedtime.
You can do this by establishing visual cues for the different events of the day and getting them used to a new schedule.
#10 Don’t Be Too Hard on Yourself
Dementia is a challenging disease to navigate, and supporting your loved one can require a lot of energy and time from you.
It’s essential to give yourself the time to relax and enjoy some time to yourself. Don’t be afraid to seek help and guidance when needed, as it can provide your loved one with the best possible care.
Dementia care can be challenging, and seeking help and guidance is the first step to understanding how to better communicate with your loved one.
Contact a professional to learn more about dementia and see if memory care is a good lifestyle option for your loved one.