Learning how to communicate with a loved one with dementia and in need of memory care can be a trying time for both you and your loved one. For both family members and the loved one experiencing memory loss, trying to communicate often leaves everyone frustrated and emotional. Communication doesn’t have to be difficult. Try incorporating these tips into your communication style when interacting with loved ones in memory care communities.
- Avoid using reality-based timing in communications. For a loved one suffering from dementia and memory loss, speaking in terms of present day timing keeping can be jarring. Loved ones with memory loss can often feel frustrated when they don’t know what day it is. While it might seem natural to want to bring them back to the present, this can have negative effects on your loved one. Instead, try to enter into their reality. Persons with poor short-term memory can often retain their long-term memory and may be reliving significant events from earlier in life.
- Ask open questions instead of just distracting. Instead of distracting your loved one with reality, ask open questions, one at a time about something they are interested in or something that is a part of their reality. Asking questions one at a time allows the person to have time to think and respond without becoming overwhelmed. Communicate with short, simple sentences and questions in order to give your loved one the time and space they need to articulate their answers.
- Be concrete. When communicating with someone with dementia and memory loss it’s important to be direct when speaking with them and not ambiguous. People suffering from memory care issues can have trouble thinking in the abstract. Avoid using metaphors and analogies because of this hindrance. It’s also important to connect words with actual objects and to speak about things they can actually see or that are happening around them.
Give both you and your loved one the best chance for successful communication. When communicating with a loved one, whether it is at a memory care community or otherwise, try to limit outside stimuli by talking in a quiet place without distractions. This allows the individual to maximize focus when communicating. Observe your loved one for signs of confusion and restate the message or question clearly if they appear concerned.
Senior Living Management offers memory care communities at many of our locations. Contact one of our locations for more information about our memory care programs and how to communicate with a loved one with dementia and memory loss.