Improving your communication skills can be really helpful when it comes to caring for someone with Dementia. Being able to communicate better with a loved one with Dementia not only relieves stress but can improve the quality of your relationship with your loved one, particularly when visiting them in a residential care home.
At The Cottage Nursing Home in Northampton, we encourage friends and relatives to learn new ways of coping with their loved one with Dementia, which is why we put together a list of the top tactics we use with the residents of our elderly care home in Northampton.
Ensure your interaction is positive. Your body language and attitude communicate more strongly your feelings than your words do. Concentrating on a positive tone of voice, facial expression, and adding physical touch to show affection is comforting to those receiving Dementia care in a residential care home.
Ask simple questions that are easy to answer. If you can, use visual prompts to help clarify your question and guide their response, particularly if relating to something not in our care home in Northampton. Try not to ask open-ended questions that give too much choice for a response.
State your message clearly. Try to use simple words with clear sentence, speaking distinctly and slowly, while using a reassuring tone. If they do not understand you the first time, try rephrasing slightly, ensuring to use names of people and places rather than abbreviations. Try to remember that those with advanced Dementia may have little understanding of where they were before moving to our Northampton assisted living.
Ensure you have your loved one’s attention. When requiring a response, limit their distractions, such as turning off the TV or radio, or closing their door. Address them directly by their name before speaking with them, followed by identifying yourself. If they are seated, get down to their level so that they feel comfortable.
Be patient with their answers. If you can see they are struggling to find their words, calmly suggest some. Listen to your eyes as well as your ears to ensure you react appropriately and understand the real meaning behind what they are trying to tell you.
Respond to what they say with reassurance and affection. Remembering that Dementia can cause people to feel anxious, confused and unsure of their situation is paramount when communicating with them. For Dementia sufferers living in a residential care home, this can be even more confusing, as they have been removed from the home that they remember most clearly. Avoid trying to convince them that they are wrong if their memory is recalling things incorrectly, responding with praise, comfort and support if all else fails.
Break down any activities into easy to understand steps. Doing this will help to make any task feel more manageable. If your loved one forgets a step, then gently encourage them by using visual cues and hints, such as showing where they should place their plate with your hand.