older woman having a conversation with her daughterIt is very difficult to watch your loved one’s health deteriorate from a progressive disease like dementia. There are many different forms of dementia, from Alzheimer’s to Parkinson’s, and all weaken the mind over time. However, what can be most challenging to accept is the change in your family member’s personality. Whether it’s Mom, Dad or Grandma suffering from dementia, it can be devastating when they temporarily forget who you are.

How can you hold a meaningful conversation with someone who has dementia?

The following advice may help you cope, from the early stages to advanced memory loss.

1. It Will Be Worse Before It’s Better

Unfortunately, it can be a challenge to learn the best ways of communicating with your loved one affected by dementia. The first days, weeks and months will be hard, but if you continue to reinforce people and places in their mind, your communication can get better. Try to learn and master the most effective verbal cues and positive body language.

2. Talk in A Quiet Place

Loud, crowded places that have many distractions are not the best for people with dementia. It can be hard enough to focus on the words you’re saying, without other people talking around you. Bring your loved one somewhere familiar and have a carefree conversation. Avoid discussing about the disease if possible.

3. Use Names Often

It can be hard to believe that your own parent or sibling could forget who you are, but dementia does not play favorites. When you visit a family member with Alzheimer’s or another form of the disease, use names as often as possible. For instance, “Hi Grandpa Bill, it’s me Susan,” will help reinforce that he is Bill and you are his granddaughter Susan.

4. Pay Attention to Your Tone

As mentioned, the rapid development of dementia can be difficult to cope with. Even if you feel frustrated that Aunt Ruth does not remember your wife Jill, it can make the situation worse to become agitated. After all, it is the disease preventing the memories, not your loved one. Keep a pleasant tone and be patient if he or she becomes momentarily confused.

5. Don’t Underestimate Non-Verbal Cues

In all types of communication, non-verbal cues are equally as important as the words you speak. However, people suffering from dementia are more likely to have a negative, potentially aggressive, reaction towards bad posture or failure to make eye contact. So, make sure to smile and nod throughout the conversation to make your loved one feel safe.

At West Hartford Health & Rehabilitation Center, we have a state-of-the-art dementia facility. Contact us today to learn more about admission for your loved one.