Interacting With a Loved One Living With Dementia
If a loved one is living with dementia, you may have noticed the way they interact has changed. They may speak less often, repeat themselves, have difficulty finding the right words, or easily lose their train of thought.
Dementia presents in many ways and can be unique to the individual, but the most important thing for everyone is to make them feel comfortable. There are a number of ways you can do this, and open up positive conversation.
One-on-one conversation can be the most rewarding and least stressful for a person living with dementia. Choose a quiet space that they are familiar with.
Give your loved one plenty of time to think and respond. Offer reassurance if needed, and don’t interrupt unless they ask for help.
Bolster your one-on-one conversation with direct eye contact and a smile. This helps build a connection, maintains focus, and shows that you are also engaged with what they want to say.
Use Touch for Reassurance
A pat on the shoulder or some gentle hand holding can help reinforce the connection and maintain focus.
Avoid Slang or Figures of Speech
Your loved one may not have the same grasp of some terms as their dementia progresses, and is more likely to take what is said literally.
Give Them Options
If a person living with dementia is having difficulty answering open-ended questions, they could be struggling with finding the right word. Patiently provide a few options for them to choose from instead.
Stay Slow and Steady
Make an effort to slow down your usual speed of conversation, and use shorter sentences. This gives your loved one more time to process what you are saying.
Keep it Simple
By sticking to one topic at a time, you can help them maintain their train of thought, and avoid any feeling of being overwhelmed.
Use Non-Verbal Prompts
Whether it’s pointing, gesturing, written notes or other visual cues, your loved one may appreciate using one of these alternatives when they are having difficulty following along with the conversation.
Pay Extra Attention
When it comes to chatting with someone living with dementia, you’ll want to listen more intently and pay attention to their body language. You’ll already be able to spot their usual non-verbal cues.
Engagement Goes a Long Way
Taking the time to sit down and chat with your loved one, no matter what the topic, has benefits for both of you.
Interaction plays a key role in dementia care, as it can benefit cognitive health and help manage some of the common symptoms. With feelings of isolation and loneliness often accompanying the condition, social engagement can help boost confidence, improve communication skills, and help people stay in the moment.
At Randolph Hill, our staff are trained in dementia care, which includes knowing how to best interact with our residents. They will also adapt their approach to the individual.
Find out more about how we care for those living with dementia here.