Communicating with individual’s who have dementia is on of the biggest challenges and frustrations for caregivers. As brain cells die (brain shrinkage) individuals experience increasing difficulty following a day-do-day schedule, interpreting their environment, completing everyday tasks, planning and organizing. Although these individuals get lost in time and place and often get overwhelmed and anxious in over-stimulation environments (family gatherings, loud TVs, etc), they retain the ability to read facial expressions, body language and tone of voice. Here are a list of tips and tricks to add to your caregiver toolbox:
Use a warm and calm voice
Make sure that can see your face when you are speaking to them
Do not come up behind them as they will not see you and may reflexively strike out in self defense
Ask simple questions such. For example yes/no or which of these two (items) would you prefer.
Use hand gestures
Keep conversations simple and in the moment
Use the person’s name
Converse with them in a noisy environment
Try to re-orient them to place and time.
Demonstrate defensive body language
Force them to do activities they don’t want to do
Use an angry or sarcastic tone of voice