For people with dementia and Alzheimer's, sundowning syndrome is a common change…
Communicating with a person with dementia can be difficult, but a few tips and tricks can help make it a bit easier. Communication is essential to engage a person with dementia, whether for a mealtime, activity, or just a friendly conversation. Communication skills will gradually decline as a person progresses, but keeping a few tips in mind can help.
- Maintain eye contact. This way, the person will understand that you are talking to them, which can help them focus on what you say.
- Speak slowly and clearly. It can be difficult for the person to understand you; give them time to process what you say.
- Focus on the person and maintain a one-on-one conversation. They might get distracted or not understand a conversation with multiple people.
- Be patient and repeat your thoughts as needed. If the person doesn’t understand what you’re saying, repeat yourself or rephrase your idea more directly.
- Avoid arguing. It may be easy for the person to confuse facts; instead of arguing, simply agree and move on. This will make the conversation less stressful for you both.
- Give visual cues. Visual cues can be a great way to help the person understand what you are talking about. For example, showing them a picture of a park or restaurant when making plans may help them know what you are talking about.
- Ask one question at a time. The person may not be able to remember complicated questions.
- Reintroduce yourself. If the person doesn’t remember who you are, reintroduce yourself and help orient them to how you know each other.
- Maintain compassion. In conversation, you might not understand what they’re talking about, but maintaining your kindness will help them feel safe and grounded.
- Stay positive. If you come into a conversation with a positive attitude, it will be more likely that they will feed off your energy, and you will have a meaningful interaction.
With the holidays coming up, share these tips with friends and family to help them understand how best to communicate with their loved ones. Communicating with someone with dementia can be difficult, and it might take time to get the hang of it, but supporting each other can help your family have a great holiday season for everyone.