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Sunrise Senior Living Blog

Sunrise Senior Living Blog

Communicating with Someone Living with Dementia

Good communication is important in a caregiver relationship. If you're providing dementia care for a loved one, you probably know by now that communication is key to a successful relationship.

Communicating with someone who is living with Alzheimer's disease or another form of dementia is different from talking to someone with normal brain function. Not everything you say might be understood, and certain body language cues could be misinterpreted by someone who no longer recognises what they mean. These tips may help you to communicate more effectively.

Understand where they are

The Alzheimer's Society says that all forms of dementia involve problems with language, and the specific issues that individuals experience can vary according to their diagnosis and the stage they're at. Language skills often wax and wane each day, so it's important to recognise that just because your loved one was communicative yesterday doesn't mean he or she is able to do so today. A person's ability to communicate can also be influenced by pain, discomfort, illness or medication side-effects, so talk to your loved one's doctor to rule out any issues of this sort.

Speak clearly and calmly

Before you start talking with your loved one, make sure the environment is conducive to effective communication. Turn off or turn down any distractions such as music or television, and make sure the person has your full attention. Ensure that he or she can see you and make eye contact. It's also a good idea to make sure you're calm. Once you're ready, begin speaking clearly and at a slightly slower pace so your relative can understand what you're saying. Show respect and patience, and give your relative plenty of time to respond to you.

Watch your body language

The NHS says that communication also involves gestures, movements and facial expressions, so you'll need to be aware of these during your interactions. Don't make any sudden movements and put on a relaxed facial expression. Talk to your loved one from a respectful distance, and try to get below his or her level if possible to avoid looking intimidating, like kneeling if your loved one is seated. Sometimes it's also a good idea to pat or hold your relative's hand while you're speaking to show closeness and encourage him or her to speak. Make sure he or she is comfortable with this by watching your relative's body language and listening to what he or she says.

At Sunrise Senior Living, our care homes all include an area dedicated to dementia care. For more information or to ask any questions, contact us today.

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