Communication can be so much more than spoken words. A grin, gesture, or touch can communicate a great deal, too. As dementia progresses in a senior, it may well become essential to test out alternative techniques to stay connected. If you’re unsure where you should start, try these non-verbal communication strategies:
Body Language and Movement
Visualize a businessperson rushing along the sidewalk, shuffling papers in a folder or gripping a cell phone firmly in one hand while making exaggerated gestures with the other hand. You’d probably assume that individual is under pressure, overwhelmed, and feeling rushed.
Now imagine someone swaying slowly back and forth while cradling a baby in their arms. The feelings communicated are of calm, comfort, and peace.
Keep in mind your personal body language during your interactions with a senior with Alzheimer’s, being careful not to communicate frustration, anger, or impatience. Slower, calm motions, with a relaxed facial expression, will convey to the person with dementia that all is safe and well.
Eye contact lets others see that you are paying attention to them, and that what they have to communicate with you is important. For somebody with dementia, this should include approaching the individual from the front so as not to surprise them, and keeping your face at their eye level. Refrain from getting too close, which is often intimidating, but rather respect their personal space.
Patting or holding the senior’s hand, giving a hug, shaking hands, or offering a light back rub are wonderful ways to communicate love or support, but make certain these kinds of physical affection are welcomed. A loved one with dementia who is not at ease with being touched may become agitated and angry, or may feel as if these are condescending actions. Watch for any unfavorable responses and immediately stop any further physical touch if noted.
Even in the event the senior no longer understands the words you are saying, the tone of voice you use can frequently still be understood. Use a soothing voice at a volume that’s neither too loud nor too quiet. The individual may also appreciate hearing you sing familiar songs, or even just humming. Again, pay attention to hints from the senior to make certain your voice isn’t provoking displeasure.
At-Home Care Company’s senior helpers in Urbandale, Iowa and nearby areas are uniquely trained in innovative approaches to socializing and connecting with individuals with Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia.
We’re always here to provide additional tips and information, as well as the in-home respite care that provides you with the opportunity to step away for a break whenever you need one. Taking good care of yourself is vital to taking good care of a senior you love with dementia, and with At-Home Care Company on your side, both you and the senior you love will benefit.