At times dementia makes communication difficult, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t ways to manage and adapt communication methods to talk to your loved ones.
Many of us who interact with individuals with dementia know that at times it feels difficult to communicate. One of the first and primary symptoms that arise when individuals are diagnosed with dementia is aphasia. Aphasia is characterized by a difficulty in communication as a transmitter and a receiver of messages, meaning that individuals afflicted with aphasia tend to get progressively worse as dementia progresses. However, aphasia symptoms widely vary between different types of dementia. Hence, aphasia will affect various individuals in numerous ways: some might mix up words more than others, while others might simply forget names of household objects.
- Know What You’re Dealing With
The first thing that can be done to deal with the language barrier established by dementia is to understand it. As previously mentioned, aphasia affects individuals differently. Speaking with your doctor about aphasia can give you a better understanding of what to expect. Once you understand the symptoms and their severity, you will be able to create a tailored way to overcome any barriers. There is no be-all-end-all method to communicate effectively with individuals living with dementia since all cases are different, which is why an outlined approach specific to each person is crucial.
- Slow Down and Break Your Sentences Down
Although each individual is different, there are ways to ease conversation and make it more enjoyable for care partners and individuals with dementia . When talking with them, remember to enunciate clearly, and leave time in between thoughts. By doing so, you are giving them enough time to process the information they are presented with without feeling like they’re being overwhelmed or bombarded. Another way to make sure that they do not get overwhelmed is by shortening sentences and streams of ideas. Instead of speaking in lengthy sentences and throwing many ideas at the person, try breaking down those long sentences into a series of short sentences with simple, brief ideas.
- Be Patient
Patience is the most important element. Although at times you may be frustrated with your communication, remind yourself that the individual with dementia is trying their best. If communication is slow one day, try re-focusing. Doing an activity like looking at photos or listening to music will allow you to regroup, and ease into conversation again as these activities are natural conversation-starters. Remember, we all have off days, so take communication day by day and don’t a bad day discourage you.
Do you have any helpful tips for communicating with an individual with dementia? Share them down below!