Dementia affects a great deal of America’s older population. Dementia is a general term for memory loss and other cognitive loss serious enough to interfere with daily life. It’s often difficult for seniors with dementia to communicate with others. It can be challenging for family members and friends to talk to and understand loved ones with dementia. It’s really important to be able to communicate with seniors. They express needs and wants about their emotional and physical well-being, and it can be frustrating if they are misunderstood. Seniors must continue to have a high quality of life while dealing with memory loss. Because every senior is different, there isn’t a specific technique that works across the board when it comes to dementia care for seniors. Often, caregivers must rely on trial and error, determining what works in their situation. What are some things that caregivers can do when communicating with seniors with dementia?
10 tips for communicating with a person with dementia
- Seniors sense feelings from others. Always set a positive mood for interaction.
- Get their attention by doing something that interests them. Maybe share a personal object or talk about a wonderful memory.
- State your message clearly. Try to keep it brief and to the point.
- Ask simple questions. It’s much easier to ask if they’ve eaten lunch versus asking what they had for lunch.
- Listen with your ears, eyes, and heart. Adapt your communications approach to their behavior and responses.
- Break down activities into steps. Do one thing at a time, even with daily tasks such as eating and bathing.
- When it gets tough, distract and redirect. If there is a disconnect, change the subject. Be cheerful.
- Respond with affection and reassurance. Always make seniors feel comfortable, even if you don’t totally understand them.
- Seniors with dementia tend to remember things from years ago. Ask them about the good old days.
- Maintain your sense of humor. It will help you to communicate more effectively.
Engaging in mental and physical activity is an important aspect of dementia care for seniors. Keeping their minds and bodies active can positively impact their overall health and quality of life. What types of activities help when communicating with seniors?
11 activities that can help communication for seniors with dementia
- Listen to their favorite music together. Have a sing-along. Play an instrument.
- Cook a simple recipe. Find an old family favorite.
- Try your hands at different arts and crafts to find one that suits them.
- Create a small indoor or outdoor garden together. Add a lot of colorful plants and flowers.
- Go through old family photos and watch family videos together.
- Work on puzzles together. They can be fun, and stimulating.
- Do a little dance or exercise. It’s good for the body and soul.
- Take a walk and enjoy nature or different surroundings.
- Reminisce about the past. Seniors enjoy talking about their lives.
- Take some time to pray together. Many seniors find solace when engaged in spiritual activities.
- Read stories out loud. Find out what books and stories entertain them.
Dementia Care for Seniors at Living Branches
Living Branches is a system of retirement living and affordable housing communities dedicated to providing quality, life-enriching services on three campuses in southeastern Pennsylvania. Living Branches' partnerships with Drexel University’s College of Nursing and Health Professions and LeadingAge PA focus on the specialized needs of older adults, families, and caregivers. Living Branches offers dementia care for seniors and their families including support groups, creative arts therapy, memory cafes, and caregiver seminars. Additionally, Living Branches is committed to the most secure, safe, and solicitous senior Memory Care for residents with varying degrees of memory impairment, dementia, or Alzheimer's disease. Our Memory Care communities provide a warm and friendly home for residents who require care at either the Personal Care or Health Care level.
Learn more about Living Branches dementia care for seniors including Creative Arts Therapy and Music and Memory programming. Contact us now or call 215-368-4438 to schedule a visit or request more information.