When a loved one or patient is suffering from dementia, maintaining communication can be one of the toughest challenges for a caregiver or family member. The patient’s limited understanding, environmental confusion, and verbal skills can lead to non-response—or increasing frustration for both carer and patient. How can you have successful conversations with a loved one or patient suffering from dementia? Take the right steps to keep the conversation comfortable, easy to follow, and First things first: prepare yourself to make the best of the conversation. Prepare yourself for the conversation by getting into a patient, calm, and respectful mindset. Remember, while your patient may have limited cognitive functioning now—they are still the person you, or their family, has loved and admired. Conversation can be easier or harder depending on patient’s circumstances, but your attitude can ensure that every interaction is as meaningful and pleasant as possible. Second: make the environment as comfortable as possible.
- Remove Distractions—choose a quiet, well-lit area to help your patient focus comfortably on the conversation.
- Get their Full Attention—begin your conversation by saying their name, or even touching them lightly on the shoulder or arm.
- Relax Your Body Language—non-verbal patients may rely heavily on body language, so make sure you give a relaxed, positive impression
- Maintain Eye Contact—keep their focus on you by sitting next to or across from them and maintaining calm, steady eye contact.