Communicating with dementia patients can be extremely difficult and traumatising. Some people break down and cry when they realise that their demented loved one no longer remembers them. Others decide to cut off any form of communication and limit visits because they imagine there is nothing to talk about. The loneliness as patients struggle with their new conditions is even worse when nobody attempts to communicate with them.
How to Communicate
- Set the right mood: From the onset, the patient should feel safe. They can read your body language, so if you appear apprehensive and nervous, it will register to them, and they will develop a block. Smile, look them in the eye and make your communication from the heart so that they feel you are seeking a deeper connection with them.
- Take it slow: Do not be in a hurry to connect with the patient. Take it slow and deliver your conversation in simple language and quiet tone. This allows the patient to take in the information. You should also not get irritated when you have to repeat statements or fact. Be patient and at the back of your mind, remember that the patient is struggling to connect.
- Divide activities into steps: Always keep learning about dementia and when you have to assign tasks to the patient, do not overwhelm them with too much information. Try to create a routine that they can follow easily.
- Remind them of the good old days: Do not make your communication with a dementia patient focus too much on their disease. They have a life beyond having dementia. Maintain your sense of humour and remind them of the good old days and the beautiful future ahead.
If you feel overwhelmed, you can hire a trained caregiver who will teach and guide you on how to care and communicate with a dementia patient. Do not force things, though. If they are not ready for a conversation, let them rest and try another time.