An International Professional Speaker, Kevin Horsley, once said, “Your memory is the glue that binds your life together; everything you are today is because of your amazing memory.”
Imagine gradually losing the glue of memory that binds our life together and watching it slowly fall apart. Even the thought of it gives chills down our spine. Unfortunately, what’s hard for us even to imagine, is a reality for some of our loved ones.
It is challenging for a caregiver or a family to provide proper care for a person with dementia. Individuals with dementia from conditions like Alzheimer’s suffer from a progressive brain disorder which makes it extremely difficult for them to think clearly, remember things, communicate, and even perform their daily chores.
A special and empathetic approach is necessary when caring for people with memory impairment. Support for memory care is not just about addressing physical requirements but also about building emotional connections and preserving independence and dignity.
Effective communication lies at the heart of providing exceptional memory care support. Caregivers can build enduring relationships, ease anxiety, and improve the general well-being of the persons they support by using communication strategies.
A caregiver can implement numerous communication strategies to make his or her memory care support effective.
Embrace the Memory Care Challenge
The condition of your loved one or client with dementia is bound to worsen over time. The client will tend to lose even the most cherished memories as dementia progresses toward its final stages; hence establishing communication with them will get even more challenging. While you may think there’s an improvement in the condition on a particular day, you may witness all the progress fall to zero the following day. Hence, be prepared and never allow yourself to get demotivated by a bad day.
Effective communication becomes almost impossible for elderly individuals suffering from dementia. So be mentally prepared to face delayed responses, adversity or provocation, and the requirements to repeat your phrases more than once. Remember not to lose your cool, as you are there to help; you being impatient will only worsen the situation.
Be attentive and empathetic toward their concerns, even if they are confused, hesitant, delusional, or angry. Offer support and reassurance, and try to make them feel safe and comfortable around you.
Minimize Background Noise
Background noises often tend to confuse and disturb patients who have dementia. Try to communicate with them at a quiet place without any disturbance from the radio, T.V., or any other sound that might disrupt your ongoing session.
Be humble, kind, and warm while talking to your client or your loved one with dementia. Place yourself forward and be precise with your words. Avoid using pronouns like “he” or “she”; instead, be particular with the name of the person you are referring to. Use simple sentences and provide them with ample time to respond. Avoid contradicting what they are saying. Remember, you are not communicating with a child but an adult with a condition.
Use Nonverbal Cues
Touches, facial expressions, and hand gestures can significantly enhance communication, making it even more engaging for the other person. Be observant and check for any non-verbal cues indicated through body moments other than what they are speaking. There could be different feelings hiding behind the words they are actually speaking.
Be involved in the conversation and listen to every word they are saying. Appreciate them for little things, and make them feel that you are interested in talking to them. However, avoid being overly sympathetic and treat them like a child. This can trigger a particular type of emotion in them and make them uncomfortable.
Take a Break
Take a break! When you get irritated, your words might hide them, but your body language won’t. People with dementia are very observant and can read your body language. Taking a break will benefit both parties and significantly enhance the quality of your communication.
Connecting with Compassion
In memory care, communication is more than just talking to each other; Building bridges of compassion and understanding is the goal. In order to meet the particular requirements of those who suffer from memory loss, we as friends, family, or caregivers need to continue educating ourselves, adjusting our methods, and practicing active listening. By doing so, we can respect their uniqueness, protect their nobility, and make enduring recollections that persevere past the limits of memory. With these communication strategies at our disposal, we can navigate the complexities of memory care with love, grace, and unwavering support.