Dementia and other memory-related diseases erode a person’s capacity to communicate over time. Patience, empathy, and strong listening skills are required while communicating with someone who has dementia. The strategies below can help you communicate with dementia patients better.
Communication in Early Stage Dementia
In the early stages of dementia, often known as mild dementia in medical terms, a person can still have meaningful conversations and participate in social activities. She or he may, however, repeat stories, become overwhelmed by excessive stimulus, or struggle to find the proper word. Whatever the case may be, patience is the key ingredient to success, here.
Communication in Middle Stage Dementia
The middle stage of dementia, also known as moderate dementia, is the most severe and can endure for many years. The person will have increasing difficulties communicating as the condition progresses and will require more direct care. Here are some communication tips for success:
- Have a one-on-one chat with the person in a calm, distraction-free environment.
- Speak clearly and slowly.
- Maintain eye contact with the other person. It demonstrates that you are interested in what she or he is saying.
- Allow plenty of time for the person to react so that she or he may consider what to say.
- Show patience and reassurance. It may persuade the individual to express her or his thoughts.
- Don’t ask more than one question at a time.
Communication in Late-Stage Dementia
The late stage of dementia, often known as severe dementia, can last anywhere from weeks to years. Nonverbal communication, such as facial expressions or voice sounds, may become more important as dementia progresses. This stage frequently necessitates round-the-clock care. Try the following for effective communication:
- Come up to the individual from the front and introduce yourself.
- Make nonverbal communication a priority. If you’re having trouble understanding what someone is trying to say, ask them to point or make a gesture.
- Use your senses of sight, touch, taste, smell, and sound to communicate with the person.
- Consider the emotions elicited by words or noises. The feelings exhibited are sometimes more important than what is stated.
- Show respect and dignity to the individual. Avoid speaking to the person as if she or he doesn’t exist.
- It’s fine if you don’t know what to say; what matters most is your presence and companionship.
Changes in communication capacity vary depending on the individual and where he or she is in the disease process. The following are some of the issues you can anticipate observing as the disease progresses:
- Having trouble finding the proper words
- Using the same words over and over
- Using descriptive language rather than names to refer to known objects
- Losing one’s train of thought easily
- Difficulty logically organizing words
- Returning to one’s first language
- Speaking less frequently
- Rather than speaking, relying on motions
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