Communication is critical for everyone. There are two main forms of communication – verbal (the things we say) and non-verbal (gestures, touch and body language). This feature focuses on the verbal form of communication and will provide you with some practical tips on how to help a person with dementia.
Here are few tips which will allow you to navigate the often murky waters of dementia communication :
- Use touch and body language. Dementia is not contagious. Don’t be afraid to sit near, hold a hand, touch a shoulder, give a hug. Physical nearness and contact is important and will help keep them grounded in reality.
- Tone matters. Dementia often robs our loved one of their intuition. They are unable to distinguish the source of your emotions. If your tone is negative, they will believe your feelings towards them are negative. Likewise, if your tone is positive their emotions will likely also lean towards the positive.
- Remember the 10 “Rules”. Always agree – Never argue. Always redirect – Never Reason. Always distract – never shame. Always reassure- Never Lecture. Always Reminisce – Never say “Remember”. Always Repeat-Never say “You Can’t”. Always Ask-Never Command. Always Praise – Never Condescend. Always Reinforce-Never Enforce.
- Avoid anger. While our anger is rarely directed toward our loved one, but rather the disease, it’s so important that we avoid expressing this anger in the presence of our loved one as they no longer have the ability to determine the source or your negative emotion.
- Be present. The best thing you can do for your loved one is be present. Sometimes conversation is difficult but your calming presence in their lives will go so far in helping them feel loved.