June brings us Effective Communications Month. Many in the business and marketing professions view this designation as an opportunity to address effective communication skills to their staff. For family caregivers caring for a parent with dementia, effective communication takes on a whole different skill set and one that was not taught in college. Fortunately, others have laid a path of experience. Here is what has worked for them.
Much of what is communicated lies in the unspoken. It’s in the facial expression, the gestures of the hands, the tone of one’s voice. Those with dementia may lose their ability to recall words and meanings, but they can still decipher the meaning behind the words. If you are agitated, it shows. If you are frustrated, it shows. If you are appreciating the moment for what it is and have learned to take a deep breath when the going gets tough, it shows. Try to maintain that calm, centered approach when communicating with a loved one with dementia. Mind you, unless you are Mother Teresa reborn, there will be times when frustration or anger erupts and that’s okay. Tomorrow is another day.
Don’t. It’s really just that simple. Your parent may see something that, in your reality, is not there. They may find themselves in a different place than the one you reside in—such as a home they lived in years ago instead of the one you and they are presently standing in. But whatever they see, think or feel, for now it is the world they live in and trying to convince them otherwise only serves to bring confusion and angst. Redirection works well here. Okay, so they’re talking to their spouse who passed on several years ago. That’s okay. Maybe it’s time for a little gardening, a walk around the neighborhood at dusk when the moon flower and evening primrose are just beginning to bloom, or a warm bath filled with sea salt, the essential oils of lavender, and accompanied by a glass of iced lemon water.
Keep it Simple.
Be sure to get your loved one’s attention before speaking, either through a gentle touch or a quiet word. Turn off any distracting background noises such as the TV and make sure that their home is considered a no-stress sanctuary by any entering its domain. Keep questions simple, preferably requiring a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ reply.
While recent memory is failing, the distant past can, at times, be crystal clear. To help them gain a sense of normalcy and control in the midst of their ever-changing world, talk about the distant past on a regular basis.
Senior Care Provider.
Caring for a loved one with dementia can be extremely rewarding despite the challenges that both of you face. In order to keep a positive and upbeat attitude, you will need to schedule a day or two to yourself. These are the days that you do something you truly love, go out to lunch with an old friend, or spend time walking a secluded beach or mountaintop retreat. During these times, a senior care provider can assist your loved one with the everyday tasks of living. More importantly, they can provide the companionship and care that are so vital to someone experiencing the changes associated with dementia. Many times, a senior care provider will become a staunch supporter and trusted ally of those they care for.
If you or an aging loved one are considering senior care in Madison, FL, please call the caring staff at Hopewell In-Home Senior Care today at 850-386-5552. Providing Senior Care Services in North Florida.