Communication and Dementia
Effective and empathetic listening, verbal and behavioural skills are all essential for communication with someone who is living with dementia. It is a complex condition which influences everyone in a unique way and impacts upon the lives of those closest to them. Dementia is progressive and as it develops communication and behaviour becomes more challenging and this can lead to stress and frustrations on both the parts of the relatives and the individual. Having a better understanding of communication techniques will make life a little easier and more enjoyable by helping people stay connected.
In this article, we’re taking a look at some of the most common communication challenges someone living with dementia may experience. We’re also looking at some key communication methods and skills which carers and loved ones should adopt when communication with someone with dementia.
Communication and Care for Dementia
Communication challenges for someone with dementia commonly include:
- Difficulty with speech – either finding the right words or in pronouncing and saying words correctly.
- Noisy environments – these can be distracting, stressful, affect hearing and make following a conversation difficult.
- Confusion – they may no longer be able to recognise and interpret humour, sarcasm or other nuances of conversation. Repetition caused by memory loss and not being able to recognise their surroundings. Their ability to process information gets progressively weaker and their responses can become delayed.
Good communication methods and skills to use with someone with dementia are:
- Stay calm and speak slowly – some people with dementia can become easily agitated or distressed so it is important that you act as a calming influence. Slow and clear speech will help them to understand what you are saying
- Limit distractions – Busy environments offer numerous distractions which can impede communication. Try turning down the volume on the radio or switching off the TV to hold conversations or move to a quieter room
- Focus on the person fully – Use their name, maintain suitable eye contact and smile, giving the person your full attention so that they engage more easily with you in conversation
- Employ active listening – adopt an open posture, paying full attention so that you hear and fully understand what is being said. Notice non verbal cues – what is their body language telling you? Give them signals that you are listening, like nodding your head, and saying “uh huh” and “yes”
- Don’t rush – It often takes someone longer to process and communicate with you. Go at their pace and don’t interrupt as this can cause frustration
Dementia Care Provision at Lovett Care
Staff at Lovett Care have a long and varied experience in communicating and caring for those with dementia. We understand the complexities of the illness which is why everyone in our care has an individual care plan where we take into consideration medical requirements, but we also get to know more about them as people. From likes and dislikes to more about their background. It’s all part of delivering a comprehensive and high quality care plan for those living with dementia so that they enjoy best quality of life with us. If you have a question about our dementia care provision, please contact us.