If you have an elderly loved one who requires palliative care, you already know how challenging it can be to establish and maintain a connection with them. Patients with dementia or Alzheimer’s will have bouts of clarity, but as the disease progresses and affects their cognitive abilities, they will have more moments of confusion. Here’s how you can reach out and make them feel loved whenever possible.
5 Tips for Communicating to a Loved One With Dementia
1. Talk & Listen
People with dementia are still able to converse but at a simpler level. They will find it difficult to maintain the flow of conversation, so try to limit your topics to one at a time. Speak clearly and refrain from using “baby talk” when chatting with them. Allow them to get a word in edgewise, and listen. Avoid correcting them at the slightest mistake—that makes connecting with them harder.
2. Use the Senses
You don’t always have to use words in communicating with a loved one that needs palliative care. Sometimes, using nonverbal cues and stimulating other senses can be more effective in reaching out to your loved one with dementia. Let them listen to their favorite music or smell and eat their comfort food. A smile can put them at ease, and a hug may make them remember a loving sensation. In this case, actions do speak louder than words.
3. Engage in Activities
Constant talking can take its toll on your aging loved one’s mental energy. Instead of chatting, take a walk nearby or have a picnic while listening to music. Bring adult coloring books or do simple crafts with them to pass the time.
4. Be Patient
People with dementia will eventually forget everything about you and themselves—and this is the first thing that you must understand. They will no longer be the person that you knew prior to the disease. By embracing such a significant change, you will need patience to understand them over time. Give them time to express themselves and avoid showing your frustration or displeasure.
5. Visit on a Good Day
Patients requiring palliative care will always have their bad and good days. Ask their caregiver what’s the best time to visit. Refrain from dropping by if you feel anxious or irritable—your mood can also affect them and how they’ll interact with you.
Don’t let dementia deter you from building and maintaining a meaningful connection with your loved ones. For quality palliative care, trust the team of compassionate professionals at Lifetime Care. Serving households throughout the Finger Lakes region in New York, they’ve been providing outstanding home elderly care since 1960. Get in touch with their Rochester, NY office at (585) 214-1000, or visit their website for information on home health care.