Friday, March 15, 2013

Getting Through to a Person with Dementia –Communication Techniques that Work

Caring for a loved one with dementia poses many challenges for families and caregivers. People with dementia have a progressive brain disorder that makes it more and more difficult for them to remember things, think clearly, communicate with others, or take care of themselves. In addition, dementia can cause mood swings and even change a person’s personality and behavior. 
Good communication skills and special techniques will enhance your ability to get through to someone with dementia and handle any difficult behavior you may encounter (see tips below).

  • Identify yourself by name and relation, and use nonverbal cues and touch to help keep them focused.
  • Use facial expressions, tone of voice and physical touch to help convey your message and show your feelings of affection. 
  •  Speak slowly, distinctly and in a reassuring tone. 
  • Ask one question at a time; those with yes or no answers work best. If choices need to be made about something, visual prompts and cues also help clarify your question and can guide the response. 
  • Be patient in waiting for your loved one’s reply. If he or she is struggling for an answer, it’s okay to suggest words. Watch for nonverbal cues and body language, and respond appropriately. 
  • Remembering the past is often a soothing and affirming activity. Many people with dementia may not remember what happened 45 minutes ago, but they can clearly recall their lives 45 years earlier.
  • When your loved one becomes upset, try changing the subject or the environment.
  •  Respond with affection and reassurance. People with dementia often get reality confused and may recall things that never really occurred. Be sure to reassure them with praise and by taking their hand and physically reaching out. 
  • Maintain your sense of humor. People with dementia tend to retain their social skills and are usually delighted to laugh along with you.
Do you have a loved one who is suffering from dementia? Persons with dementia and their families face special legal and financial needs. At The Fairfax Elder Law Firm of Evan H. Farr, P.C., we are dedicated to easing the financial and emotional burden on those suffering from dementia and their loved ones.  If you have a loved one who is suffering from dementia, we can help you prepare for your future financial and long-term care needs.  We help protect the family’s hard-earned assets while maintaining your loved one’s comfort, dignity, and quality of life by ensuring eligibility for critical government benefits. Call 703-691-1888 to make an appointment for a free consultation. 

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