Communication and having the ability to express ourselves freely is vital to our quality of life. It’s the way we form relationships, learn new things and share our knowledge. However, people living with dementia and related diseases slowly lose their language skills and ability to communicate as the disease progresses.
Dementia describes a collection of symptoms that are caused by disorders affecting the brain. It affects everything from the way a person thinks, to the way a person behaves, to the way a person performs day-to-day tasks.
With a new case of dementia being diagnosed every 4 seconds around the world, it’s important to know how to communicate with a person that is living with dementia.
We have compiled 5 crucial tips to help you communicate with a person living with dementia.
1. Be patient and empathetic: Patience and empathy are key. Allow time for the person to respond and learn to tolerate any delays, mistakes or misunderstandings with total compassion. It’s important to remember that communicating effectively is one of the greatest challenges that a person living with dementia faces.
2. Offer reassurance: Listen with your full attention and empathise with their concerns, even if they are delusional or angry. Don’t correct or argue with them – simply offer your reassurance and help them feel more comfortable with the current situation.
3. Minimise distractions: Lighting, noise and sound can confuse a person living with dementia. The most effective way to communicate is to find a quiet place – away from distractions, large groups of people and loud noise.
4. Be sensitive: Remember that the person living with dementia is a human being. Talk to them directly, even if the carer is persistent in directing the conversation. This will certainly provide a sense of worth, rather than being talked over.
5. Realise your challenge: Dementia is cruel, unforgiving and, unfortunately, at this point in time there is no cure. Communicating with your loved one will get harder with time. Be prepared and know that there will be good days and bad days. If you require assistance or support, don’t hesitate in reaching out and asking for it.
“Only through communication can human life hold meaning.” – Paulo Freire