Top Dementia Communication Tips for Family Caregivers

dementia communication between caregiver and senior

These dementia communication tips can help reduce frustration.

When a loved one is diagnosed with a form of dementia such as Alzheimer’s, there are a variety of symptoms that become apparent over time. While memory loss is one of the most common and well-known symptoms, difficulty communicating is also prevalent in many individuals. Struggling with language and communication can lead to frustration for both the family caregiver and the person diagnosed with dementia. A few of the ways in which individuals with Alzheimer’s may struggle to communicate include:

  • Remembering and understanding what words mean
  • Staying focused and following along during long conversations
  • Losing their train of thought and having difficulty finding the right words
  • Getting frustrated when others don’t understand what they are trying to communicate

To help make communication easier and less frustrating for a loved one with dementia, Visiting Care Giving Services recommends the following dementia communication tips for family members and friends:

  • Monitor voice volume, tone and body language
  • Use gentle touch and non-threatening gestures
  • Portray a loving, warm and understanding manner
  • Hold your loved one’s hand, use his or her name, and make eye contact
  • Be patient and helpful
  • Allow for extra time when interacting
  • If communication is frustrating, take a break by going to another room, or taking a brief walk around the block

The most important thing to remember when communicating with a loved one who has dementia is to be direct, specific and positive. For example:

  • Limit choices. Rather than asking “What would you like for lunch today?” ask “Would you like a turkey or ham sandwich for lunch today?”
  • Ask yes or no questions. Instead of saying, “How do you feel?” ask “Are you feeling cold?”
  • Don’t point out mistakes. If a loved one participated in folding laundry or other household chores and the results aren’t perfect, thank him or her for helping.
  • Don’t make a loved one feel bad for not remembering an event. Refrain from saying things like, “Don’t you remember?” or “I can’t believe you don’t remember.”
  • If a loved one doesn’t understand something that was said, try repeating it using different words. If you ask your loved one if he or she is ready to go to bed and you don’t get a response, try saying, “It’s time for bed. Let’s get ready by brushing our teeth.”
  • Offer simple step-by-step instructions and don’t use baby talk.
  • Consider non-verbal communication such as facial expressions and gestures to help bridge gaps in communication.

At Visiting Care Giving Services, our caregiving team is specially trained in working with individuals who have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or dementia. Our goal is to help clients maintain dignity while also feeling safe and secure at home. Just a few of the ways we can help include:

  • Friendly and engaging companionship
  • Memory care and reminiscing activities
  • Encouragement to participate in a physician-approved exercise program
  • Planning and preparing nourishing meals
  • Assisting with personal care needs such as bathing, getting dresses and using the bathroom
  • Medication reminders
  • Managing sundowning, aggression and other challenging behaviors
  • Respite care for family caregivers to recharge
  • And much more!

Reach out to our St. Charles caregiver experts for more tips on caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s and to schedule a complimentary in-home consultation. Give us a call at (636) 493-9058 in our Saint Charles, MO office or at (618) 366-9058 in our Fairview Heights, IL office to learn more about how our trusted in-home care services can be customized to meet the unique needs of an older adult you love. For a full list of all of the communities we serve, visit our Service Area page.