Communicating with a senior loved one struggling with all the challenges of Alzheimer’s, particularly in the middle and later stages, is often frustrating – both for you personally as well as for the person with Alzheimer’s. Brain changes impact the ability to listen, process, and respond to conversations, and it’s up to us to implement different approaches to communicating with someone with Alzheimer’s to more successfully connect with them.
Fortunately, it’s less complicated than you might think. We already communicate nonverbally in a variety of ways:
- Physical touch
- Posture and body motion
- Eye contact
- Facial expressions
- Personal space
- Offer assurance through kind touch. If your family member is comfortable with touch, hold and pat the senior’s hand, rub the senior’s back, place an arm around his/her shoulders, and provide warm hugs.
- Look the senior in the eye. Eye contact expresses interest in the senior, even when no words are spoken aloud.
- Honor personal boundaries. Refrain from overwhelming the senior by allowing sufficient personal space, and making certain you’re at the same level as the senior, never towering over him or her. Your face should always be at eye level with the other person.
- Always keep a relaxed, patient, and positive manner. Quash any anger, frustration or impatience, and focus on keeping a relaxed and pleasant expression on your face when together with the person. If this proves to be daunting because of difficult behaviors, step away briefly and practice deep breathing or some other relaxation strategies, such as:
- Square breathing: Use your finger to draw the shape of a square in front of you. When drawing the first side, breathe in deeply for a count of three; for the following side, hold your breath for one second; for the third side, breathe out for a count of three; and for the fourth side, hold your breath for one second. Repeat as many times as necessary.
- Calming phrase repetition: A few suggestions to help you get started: This will pass, and things are ok. I am able to handle this. I am safe and well.
- Distracted thinking: Practice concentrated refocusing. Try saying the alphabet backwards, stating as many state capitals as you can, or singing the lyrics to a well-liked song.
Find more innovative approaches to effective Alzheimer’s care by getting in touch with Advanced Home Health Care’s memory care experts in Burlington and the surrounding communities. Our caregivers are specially trained in the most current Alzheimer’s care techniques, and we’re always available to assist a family member with dementia to remain safe and calm, and to enjoy life to their fullest possible potential. Contact us at 800.791.7785 any time for assistance.