Communication can be so much more than just the spoken word. A grin, gesture, or touch can speak volumes. As dementia progresses in a senior, it may become necessary to test out alternate methods to stay connected. If you are unsure where to start, try these suggestions to enhance Alzheimer’s care:
Body Language and Movement
Picture seeing a businessperson dashing along the sidewalk, shuffling papers in a folder or clutching a cell phone firmly in one hand while making exaggerated gestures using the other hand. You can easily assume that individual is under great pressure, stressed, and rushed.
Now visualize a person swaying slowly from side to side while cradling a child in their arms. The feelings communicated are of calm, comfort, and peace.
Keep an eye on your own personal body movements during your interactions with a loved one with dementia, being careful not to project frustration, anger, or impatience. Slower, calm movements, with a relaxed facial expression, will show the person with dementia that everything is okay.
Eye contact lets others know that you’re focusing on them, and that whatever they have to communicate with you is important. For somebody with dementia, this should include approaching the individual from the front so the person is aware of your presence, and keeping your face at their eye level. Refrain from getting too close, which can be intimidating, but instead respect their personal space.
Patting or holding the senior’s hand, hugging them, shaking hands, or offering a light back rub are great ways to express love or support, but make certain these kinds of physical affection are welcomed. A loved one with dementia who’s not comfortable with being touched may become distressed and angry, or may feel as if they are condescending gestures. Watch out for any unfavorable responses and immediately stop any more physical touch if noted.
Even in the event the senior does not understand the words you are saying, the tone of voice you use can often still be interpreted. Talk in a comforting tone at a volume that’s neither too loud nor too soft. The senior might also appreciate hearing you sing familiar tunes, or even just humming. Again, take note of hints from the senior to make sure your voice isn’t provoking displeasure.
At Compassionate Nursing Services, a provider of Oakville senior home care, our senior care team is uniquely trained in creative approaches to communicate and interact with individuals with Alzheimer’s disease as well as other forms of dementia.
We’re always here to supply further dementia and Alzheimer’s care tips and information, as well as the in-home respite care that gives you the chance to step away for a break anytime you need one. Taking care of yourself is key to taking proper care of a senior you love with dementia, and with Compassionate Nursing Services by your side, both you and the senior you love will benefit.