Communicating with a loved one that has dementia can be challenging, to say the least. Here are 10 tips that our friend Joanne, from @alz_action on Instagram (give it a follow!) shared that we think are important to remember:
- Never argue, instead agree.
This can be one of the hardest things to do as a Caregiver of someone with dementia. Fact is, their reality is not the same as our own and there is never a winner when it comes to an argument in this case. Smile, nod and move on.
- Never reason, instead divert.
Another tactic to avoid arguments is instead of trying to reason with your loved one, just divert their (and your!) attention to another topic or task.
- Never shame, instead distract.
There will be plenty of times where mistakes are made…instead of shaming, instead distract them with something so they don’t focus on what happened.
- Never lecture, instead treasure.
Even though it’s difficult to not be trying to correct and teach your loved one to avoid further issues, try to focus on treasuring the time you do have with them and the small moments of joy.
- Never say “remember”, instead reminisce.
Chances are your loved one will not be able to remember what you are asking them to, so instead, re-tell the story as if you are reminiscing to keep them engaged but not pointing out their ability to recall.
- Never say “I told you”, instead repeat/regroup.
This is a tough one. Repeating directions, stories and recent events are part of the territory. Try to take a deep breath and repeat/regroup.
- Never say “you can’t”, instead let them do what they can.
Allowing your loved one to keep whatever independence they have remaining, is important. Even though you may want to assist with almost everything (many times to avoid disaster), allow them to do whatever they still can. Little tasks mean a lot!
- Never command/demand, instead ask/model.
Modeling is super important. If your loved one begins to lose words and their association, modeling can help bridge the gap. Example: Instead of saying “Eat your dinner.”, model the hand gesture of lifting a fork to your own mouth and eating.
- Never condescend, instead encourage/praise
Neither you or your loved one will come away feeling good when condescending words are exchanged. Use positive encouragement even for the little successes.
- Never force, instead reinforce.
Very few seniors with dementia can be “forced” to do anything…so reinforce desired actions with praise instead of yelling or negativity.
If you have a loved one with dementia, we’re here to help. Sunways Senior Living Concierge is a FREE concierge service for seniors and their Caregivers to compare care options and locate resources to help along the way. Check out our website for more free resources or to set up a call with us to see how we can help!