How to Communicate with a Loved One Who Has Dementia

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How to Speak to an Aging Adult Who Has Dementia in Philadelphia, PA

Dementia changes how seniors communicate. Once they reach a certain stage, they may not fully be able to understand complicated directions or information. Your aging loved one may also need you to listen carefully to understand what he or she wants to say. Finding effective ways to talk to a loved one with dementia eases frustration and helps you keep him or her safe.

Use a Respectful Tone and Language

Your loved one may be absolutely sweet and adorable, yet he or she should never be talked down to. Using baby talk is demeaning, and it’s quite likely your loved one understands more than he or she can express in words. Always begin speaking with a calm, clear voice. While you may choose simpler vocabulary and sentences, it should still be on the level you would use with any adult.

There are a variety of age-related health conditions that can make it more challenging for seniors to live independently. However, many of the challenges they face can be easier to manage if their families opt for professional home care. You can rely on expertly trained caregivers to keep your loved one safe and comfortable while aging in place.

Choose One Topic

Conversations often stray far off topic, which can be confusing for seniors with dementia who are just starting to follow the initial point. You should also keep in mind that trying to give too many directions at once could cause your loved one to get frustrated with trying to keep up. Think about what you want to say before you begin talking, and stick to the main goal. Once your loved one expresses his or her understanding, you can move on to the next topic or instruction.

Provide Nonverbal Cues

Your loved one likely watches your face and body carefully to figure out your meaning. Feel free to use facial expressions that let your loved one know if you’re telling him or her something that’s happy or sad. You can also point to the places you’re asking your loved one to go or motion toward an object that represents a task. For instance, you could hold up your loved one’s shirt to let him or her know it’s time to get dressed, or you could gesture toward the bathtub to prepare him or her for bathing.

Caring for a senior loved one can be challenging for families who don’t have expertise or professional training in home care, but this challenge doesn’t have to be faced alone. Family caregivers can turn to Philadelphia Home Care Assistance for the help they need. We provide high-quality live-in and respite care as well as comprehensive Alzheimer’s, dementia, stroke, and Parkinson’s care.

Pull Out the Pictures

You can also use pictures to reinforce your meaning. Your loved one may not remember the name of someone you’re talking about during a story, but showing a picture may help him or her understand who you’re talking about. Pictures may also work for common parts of your loved one’s routine. You can show your loved one a picture of his or her medication as a reminder it needs to be taken, or you can let your loved one point to a picture of the food he or she wants to eat for breakfast.

Try Rephrasing

When your loved one doesn’t respond to or understand what you’re saying, you may feel tempted to speak louder or repeat yourself. These tactics don’t address the problem. Instead, try saying the same thing in a different way. You may need to simplify your vocabulary or choose shorter sentences. Being willing to try again without getting frustrated gives your loved one further context from which he or she can decipher your meaning.

If you’re looking for reliable dementia care, Philadelphia Home Care Assistance offers high-quality at-home care for seniors who are managing the challenges of cognitive decline. We offer a revolutionary program called the Cognitive Therapeutics Method (CTM), which uses mentally stimulating activities to boost cognitive health in the elderly. CTM has proven to help seniors with dementia regain a sense of pride and accomplishment and learn how to engage with others in an enjoyable way. Trust your loved one’s care to the professionals at Home Care Assistance. Reach out to one of our compassionate Care Managers today at (215) 645-4663.


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