Guide To Communicating With Dementia Residents

Alzheimer’s and Dementia Residents Can Struggle with Communication

According to the latest Alzheimer’s Association report, an increase in those with declining cognitive abilities impact an estimated 230,000 people in Illinois, a number that is expected to rise nearly 13 percent by 2025. Dementia, a form of Alzheimer’s, is one of the only top-10 causes of death in the U.S. that cannot be prevented, cured, or slowed.

The majority of individuals diagnosed with dementia grow to rely on care provided by a nursing home to help manage their daily activities, medications, financial needs and assist them while residing in a safe environment. And as their dementia moves into later stages, help in communicating will also be required. The person may not be able to speak, or when they do, they may present lost in thought or provide confusing responses.

Sadly, when a resident is not able to express themselves through speaking, they may become at risk for nursing home abuse and neglect. But how family members, staff, or friends talk to them can impact their ongoing emotions and well-being as well as help identify any dangers.

Dementia Caregiver Tips for Communicating with Patience and Understanding

Residents battling dementia may quickly become frustrated, are not able to understand what is being asked or communicated to them, or it takes them longer to respond. During a visit, they may also want to tell you something or show you something concerning but are not able to understand the complexities involved or have the mobility to do so. Depending on the stage or your loved one’s dementia, try using these methods when speaking to them.

  1. Eliminate distractions, and do not interrupt your loved one if they are trying to speak.
  2. Avoid using negative statements, criticizing, or correcting.
  3. Always assume he or she can understand what you are saying.
  4. Focus on a display of feelings and the use of repetitive words, including names.
  5. Let them know it’s okay if they have trouble finding their words.
  6. If it’s enjoyable for your loved one, encourage reminiscing or doing certain activities such as listening to music before having a conversation.
  7. Show respect in your speech by avoiding baby talk and speaking in a normal tone of voice.
  8. Stay calm even if the conversation becomes frustrating, and don’t be personally offended by words you may hear.
  9. Keep it simple by asking one question at a time.
  10. After asking an exploratory care question such as, “Mom, are you happy here?” or “Dad, are you in pain?” watch for gestures, movements, and facial expressions, which can all convey specific meanings.

When a loved one has lost most of their verbal skills due to Alzheimer’s or dementia, it’s important to remember that they may still be able to understand the difference between a kind touch and ones that may violate their personal space and safety.

Speaking for Our Loved Ones with Dementia

If you suspect elder abuse or neglect of any kind, please contact us for a free consultation with one of our experienced nursing home attorneys at Levin & Perconti. Together we will help determine if you have a case, notify the proper authorities, and vigorously pursue justice on your behalf. There is a statute of limitations for filing elder abuse cases in the state of Illinois, so please contact us as soon as you are ready by calling 312-332-2872.

Also read: Nursing Home Aides Seen Taunting Dementia Patient | Margaret Battersby Black on Fox & Friends

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