One of the hardest things about caring for a loved one with dementia or Alzheimer’s is the lack of communication. Naturally, when the brain begins to deteriorate, communication can be challenging for both parties. As a caregiver, you want to keep the lines of communication as open as possible, which is why it’s important to not only recognize communicative issues when they’re occurring, but also how to work around them.
Some common problems that occur with patients is problems understanding what words mean, as well as complications in trying to find the right word when speaking. This is frustrating for anyone of any age, but especially an aging loved one suffering from memory loss. Additionally, there can be a loss of train-of-thought while speaking and great frustration and anger when communication isn’t going as planned.
While looking after someone with memory loss, you want to be sensitive to these signs and very aware of the emotional weight they carry. Here are some pieces of advice for how to work around common communication mishaps on the day-to-day:
Encourage a two-way conversation as long as you can. This can help them strengthen their ideas, ultimately leading to better communication between you two.
Making eye contact and addressing them by name is another essential tip, as this helps ground them in the conversation while relaying respect and kindness.
Additionally, you want to make sure the tone of your voice and body language are not tense or negative, as your loved one can pick up on that and it can make them uncomfortable.
Finally, if you are having communication meltdowns or mishaps, using the art of distraction can help get you out of it. Some common suggestions are taking a walk or indulging in a snack. Anything you can do to get their mind off the negativity is valuable.
All in all, each person is different and requires different ways of communicating. Customize how you two work together on the day-to-day so that you can exist in harmony during these challenging years.