Connecting with an older adult who is dealing with Alzheimer’s, particularly in the middle and later stages, is often discouraging – both for you personally and for your senior loved one. Brain changes affect the capacity to hear, process, and respond appropriately to conversations, and it’s up to us to implement innovative methods of communicating to more effectively connect with a senior loved one with dementia.
Fortunately, this communication style is less complicated than it may look. We already communicate nonverbally in many ways:
- Physical contact
- Posture and body movement
- Eye contact
- Facial expressions
- Personal space
Attempt these strategies from Atlanta Home Care Partners, experts in memory care in Georgia, to incorporate more nonverbal communication into your interactions with a senior loved one:
- Offer support through kind touch. If a senior loved one is comfortable with touch, hold and pat the senior’s hand, massage the person’s back, put an arm around his/her shoulders, and give warm hugs.
- Look the person in the eye. Eye contact communicates interest in the individual, even if no words are spoken.
- Respect personal boundaries. Avoid intimidating your loved one by allowing sufficient personal space, and making sure you are at the same level as the individual, never towering over her or him. Your face should always be at eye level with the other person.
- Always keep a peaceful, patient, and positive demeanor. Suppress any anger, annoyance or impatience, and focus on maintaining a calm and pleasant expression when together with a senior loved one. If this proves to be problematic because of challenging behaviors, step away momentarily and perform deep breathing or any other relaxation techniques, such as:
- Square breathing: Use your finger to trace the shape of a square in front of you. When tracing the very first side, breathe in deeply for a count of three; for the next side, hold your breath for one second; for the third side, breathe out for a count of three; and for the fourth side, hold your breath for one second. Do it again as needed.
- Relaxing phrase repetition: A few suggestions to get you started: This will pass, and things are ok. I can handle this. I am safe and well.
- Distracted thinking: Practice concentrated refocusing. Try saying the alphabet backwards, listing as many state capitals as you can, or singing the lyrics to a well-liked song.
Learn more innovative methods of successful Alzheimer’s care by getting in touch with Atlanta Home Care Partners, providers of expert Alzheimer’s care in Atlanta and surrounding areas. Our care providers are specially trained in the most up-to-date Alzheimer’s care techniques, and we are always available to assist a loved one with dementia to remain safe and calm, and to enjoy life to the greatest possible potential. Contact us or call (404) 228-0103 any time for assistance.