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Communication with A Loved One Who Has Dementia During COVID-19

January 28, 2021

Many people will testify that caring for a loved one with dementia poses significant challenges to both families and caregivers. Elderly people with dementia have a progressive brain disorder that makes it extremely difficult for them to remember things, communicate, think clearly, think logically, or even care for themselves. In addition to this, dementia can cause mood swings and even go as far as to change a person’s personality and behavior.

Many people will testify that caring for a loved one with dementia poses significant challenges to both families and caregivers.  Elderly people with dementia have a progressive brain disorder that makes it extremely difficult for them to remember things, communicate, think clearly, think logically, or even care for themselves. In addition to this, dementia can cause mood swings and even go as far as to change a person’s personality and behavior.  

In this article, we are going to share some valuable tips on how to communicate with your loved one who is suffering from dementia and creative ways in which to communicate with them during the pandemic. 

Tips on Communicating with Dementia Sufferers

 

Improving your communication skills will help to make conversations less stressful and will more than likely improve the quality of the relationship between you and your loved one.

Good communication skills will also enhance your ability to engage with the sometimes difficult behavior that you may encounter as you care for a person with a dementing illness.

Here are a few skills that are worth mastering when it comes to communicating with loved ones who have dementia:

 Gain Their Attention

It is important to limit distractions as much as possible. Turn off electronic devices, close the curtains or even move to quieter surroundings if need be.  Before you start talking make sure to have their full attention and address them by name. Let them know who you are and use expressions or gestures to keep them focused.  If they are seated, then it is a good idea to get down to their level and maintain constant eye contact with them.

Set a Positive Mood

Remember that your body language and your overall attitude has a huge impact on how you can communicate your thoughts and feelings.  Speak to your loved one cheerfully and respectfully, and at the same time use pleasant facial expressions and a compassionate tone of voice. This will help to convey your message as well as show them your genuine feelings of affection towards them.

Keep It Simple

Try to ask simple questions that require a simple yes or no answer and refrain from asking open-ended questions or giving them too many choices. Visual prompts and cues will also help to clarify your questions and guide them towards a response.

Be Clear and Concise

Be sure to use simple words and sentences while speaking slowly and distinctly in a reassuring tone.  Refrain from raising your voice and pitch your voice lower. If after the first time your loved one does not understand the question, use the same wording to repeat the question.

Take Communication One Step at A Time

Taking your communication one step at a time can make the process significantly more manageable.  Encourage your loved ones to do what they can and remind them gently of the things that they may tend to forget or are no longer able to accomplish on their own. Making use of visual cues can also be extremely helpful.

 Listen and Practice Patience

When waiting for your loved one to reply it is important to be patient. If they are struggling to communicate an answer then it is alright to suggest some words for them to use.It is important to be attentive and to listen for the meaning and feelings that underlie their words.

Bring Up the Past

Remembering the past is an extremely soothing and affirming activity to do with your loved one. Most people with dementia won’t remember what happened 30 minutes ago, but they can clearly recall what happened in their lives 30 years earlier.

Try to ask them questions about their past, as well as information that they are more likely to have retained in their memories and avoid asking questions that rely on short-term memory.They may not remember what they had for lunch, but they will more than likely remember the trip they went on for their honeymoon.

Affection and Reassurance Goes A Long Way

Senior citizens suffering from dementia often feel anxious, unsure of themselves, and confused with what happens in reality. They may even recall things that never actually occurred.

Try to avoid convincing them that they are wrong and rather stay focused on the feelings that they are demonstrating. Their feelings are very real. Comfort, support, and reassurance are critical to their well-being in these instances.

 Maintain Humor

It is important to be as jovial as possible and use humor whenever possible. People with dementia often tend to retain their social skills and are usually extremely excited to laugh along with you.

How to Connect During Covid-19

 

COVID-19 has brought about huge stress and uncertainty to families who have a loved one living with dementia. How do you communicate with your loved one when you are unable to visit? What can you say to them to make them understand exactly what is happening around them during these trying times?

Don’t be too hard on yourself. No matter what your circumstances, you are doing the absolute best that you can, and your loved ones know that you love them. By not seeing them you are restricting the risk of them contracting the virus. Therefore, you are keeping them safe.

It is important to think of creative options to connect with loved ones with dementia during the pandemic. Here are a few ideas:

 

Photo Albums and Recorded Messages

In this instance, you can make use of photo albums with audio recording devices to assist your loved one to link memories to audible descriptions.

 

Traditional Pen and Paper

Write a letter to a loved one the old-fashioned way. You could even use a whiteboard to write messages that you can display to your loved one through the care room lounge window. Texting and virtual messaging are also good platforms to use, provided your loved one can navigate through them.

 

Video calls

Video call platforms are an amazing way to keep in touch with your loved ones in a care home. It is important to ask for help with video calls from a staff member to help set up or assist your loved one during the call.

 

Care2Talk Can Help You and Your Loved One

 

Care2Talk is a video technology platform that provides an easy to use and secure product for care facilities, ministries, institutes, and universities to connect with their various constituents seamlessly.

 

This iOS/Android App uses a specially designed interface on a mobile or tablet device to create an easy-to-use video chat tool for those with cognitive decline and other impairments who may find alternative methods difficult to navigate.

  

Care2Talk allows for the ability of integration in care homes by using their application directly within the internal systems of the care home.  Senior citizens will have contact with not only family and friends, but also with the care home administration, care-aide, kitchen, and in-house doctor.

 

This can make all the difference when it comes to maintaining the emotional health of both patients suffering from dementia as well as caregivers in the care home environment during Covid-19.

Care2Talk is a one-touch solution when connecting to loved ones.

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