One in 10 seniors suffers from dementia. But talking to someone with dementia isn’t as scary as you might think.
Once you’ve gotten used to finding the right time to talk to your parent with dementia, you’ll soon discover you can have natural conversations with them. Don’t get discouraged if the first time you talk to them, you both have trouble. Sometimes, a dementia sufferer will have better speech, and other times, worse.
The important thing is to keep trying, and it will get better. Read on to learn more about living with dementia and how to talk to a parent with dementia.
Educating yourself on how to talk to a parent with dementia is the ultimate guide. Firstly, it is important to understand that communication with someone suffering from this illness is difficult, and requires patience, empathy, and compassion. However, talking about things from years ago, such as favorite childhood memories, can help to build a bridge of understanding and provide moments of joy.
To provide a wonderful environment for your parent with dementia, then one can opt for a senior living facility. Also, they can help with memory care for dementia.
Choose the Right Time and Place
Find a quiet space free of distractions, so that your parent can focus solely on the conversation. Make sure that there is natural lighting in the room and that the temperature is comfortable. Try to find a time when your parent is relaxed and not fatigued.
If it is a sunny day, find a spot outside where the parent can still feel comfortable and safe. Before starting a conversation, it is important to recognize how the parent is feeling. If the parent can no longer find the right words, be patient and be sure to listen to the full story.
Remain calm, be reassuring, and show the parent respect. These conversations can be difficult and frustrating for everyone involved and those living with dementia.
Be Patient and Empathetic
It is important to be aware that they may not remember as much as they used to and may be frustrated by that. There are many other signs of dementia that you must understand. Try not to correct them or point out mistakes if they are wrong.
Listen to them with an open heart and an open mind. Provide them with comfort by allowing them time to process what is being said. Don’t be afraid to recognize any positive successes in their daily life.
Be conscious of consistent changes in tone and facial expressions to promote a positive transformation in the discussion. Lastly, provide reassurance that they are being heard and that you are listening.
Use Non-Verbal Cues
It can be helpful to keep a smiling face when talking to them and to always maintain comfortable eye contact. You can also use hand movements and gestures, such as hand-holding, to reinforce understanding and connection. Additionally, try to sit closely with your parent and establish a connection with words that express your care and compassion.
Remember, your parent may not be able to verbalize their thoughts, but nonverbal cues can still convey meaningful sentiments. With consistent love and positive reinforcement, it is possible to foster a strong relationship with your parent and communicate effectively.
Arguing with them can be confusing and frustrating. Rather than trying to convince them that their opinion is wrong, it is more helpful to immediately shift the conversation to a different subject. To prevent arguments from happening, it is important to remain positive and be conscious of how you speak.
Use clear and simple language and avoid using words that may have two meanings, such as “yesterday” or “tomorrow”. Talking about things that happened in the past can be difficult because it is hard to remember. It is best to stay with the present and refer to specifics that will help the conversation move forward.
Finally, make sure you are patient. Understand that dementia can cause confusion and frustrations, and have patience and understanding before jumping to conclusions.
Speak Clearly and Simply
Speak in a calm, steady manner and use short, concise statements. Avoid using long, complex explanations or giving too much information at once. Use simple language and repeat things when necessary.
Ask questions that allow for only a one or two-word answer. The person may not understand sophisticated words or long phrases, so use plain language. Speak slowly and ask the person to repeat things back to you, in order to verify if they understood what was said.
When emotions are high, try to remain calm and avoid raising your voice. Most importantly, try to remain positive even when the person with dementia may not always understand what you are saying.
Understand the value of active listening – make sure to give eye contact, nod your head, and acknowledge the emotions they express. Resist the urge to interrupt or disagree and instead let them finish their thoughts. Show your interest and provide support by encouraging and praising their ideas and opinions.
Watch Body Language
Allowing them the space to speak and listen intently will help to create a comfortable atmosphere. Make eye contact and use facial expressions to show you’re paying attention. Other helpful physical cues or body language include nodding your head to encourage their thoughts, placing a hand on their arm to comfort them, and leaning in to demonstrate that you truly care about what they’re saying.
Furthermore, be conscious of your posture. Sitting too close can appear to be intimidating while maintaining a distance can give the impression of not caring. That being said, try to keep physical contact to a minimum, and always ask “May I?” before doing anything that may feel intrusive.
Remember These Tips on How to Talk to a Parent with Dementia
Talking to someone with dementia can be overwhelmingly confusing and difficult; however, by utilizing this guide, people can better understand dementia and how to communicate with a parent who has it. Through open communication and understanding, meaningful conversations and relationships with a parent with dementia can be maintained and enriched.
Reach out to your local Alzheimer’s Association for additional guidance and support as needed. Doing so will help you know more tips on how to talk to a parent with dementia.
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