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5 Ways to Talk to a Loved One with Dementia

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If you’re a caregiver for a senior loved one with dementia, communication can be difficult because your loved one may find it challenging to find the words to express him or herself and to understand what’s being said to him or her. Use these tips to communicate with your loved one better.

1. Use Literal Terms

Cultural expressions, jargon, and idioms such as “Don’t cry over spilled milk” and “Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater” may be confusing to those with dementia. Because your loved one is likely to understand things in the literal sense, these expressions might not be understood and may cause him or her to look for spilled milk or a baby. Instead, use simple and literal terms when talking with your loved one. Speaking in short phrases and presenting only one idea at a time can also help your loved one communicate his or her thoughts better with you.

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 services. You can rely on expertly trained caregivers to keep your loved one safe and comfortable while aging in place.

2. Don’t Talk Down

Using simple terms and forthright language doesn’t mean talking down to your loved one as a parent might talk to a small child. Talking to a senior like a child is a term known as “elderspeak,” and it can be hurtful. Never use a high-pitched tone with your loved one. Use the same tone you would when speaking to any other adult, and respect him or her. Not talking down to your loved one means actually talking to him or her. Don’t speak with another caregiver or a family member, friend, or doctor as if your loved one isn’t in the room with you. Talk directly to your loved one and include him or her in conversations.

3. Get Down on Your Loved One’s Level

If your loved one is bedbound or in a wheelchair, you may find yourself frequently standing above him or her as you talk, which could come across as demeaning. Instead, try sitting next to your loved one or squatting down while talking.

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 Clarksville 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.

4. Limit Distractions

Bright lights, loud noises, music, and sound from televisions are ever present in the technology-filled world. However, these things can distract seniors with dementia and make it difficult for them to formulate the right words and their own thoughts as well as to understand what’s being said to them. Try to limit these distractions as much as possible when talking to your loved one to help you understand each other.

5. Be Patient and Kind

It may take longer for your loved one to comprehend what you’re saying and respond to you. Talking with a senior with dementia can take time and patience. Increased communication, better understanding, and a stronger relationship are worth it. Clear some time in your schedule, take a deep breath, and sit with your loved one and enjoy talking with him or her.

If you’re looking for reliable dementia care, Clarksville 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. If you need professional care for your loved one, Home Care Assistance is just a phone call away. Reach out to one of our Care Managers today at (931) 444-1950.

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