Preserving Dignity in Your Loved One: Communication
A degenerative neurological disease is insidious. It slowly takes away your loved one’s ability to remember things, like names and events, and it can diminish their abilities to perform everyday tasks. As a result, family caregivers often step in to help them as much as possible. This help can come in the form of caring physically for your loved one, but often caregiving is much more complex than this. Your loved one’s emotional wellbeing and sense of independence must also be preserved. This task can be difficult as your loved one’s ability to live life normally is reduced. Today, ElderCare would like to share some ways you can help preserve dignity in your loved one during the early stages of illness.
- Patience: Your loved one will need some time trying to find the right words to say. Don’t interrupt them or correct them abruptly. This can often be frustrating. Imagine if somebody would not let you finish speaking and ended all of your sentences—it can be annoying! Unless your loved one is asking for help finding a word or phrase, try to give them independence over their manner of speaking.
- Be sensitive: This is closely related to patience. Try to empathize with your loved one and understand that their experience can often be confusing for them. This level of empathy will help you be more understanding when there are instances of miscommunication. Understanding their struggle to communicate will, in turn, allow you to be a more effective communicator.
- Listen: When your loved one is speaking, take time to listen to what they have to say. Sometimes, your loved one will open up to you about the changes they notice in themselves. This is a valuable experience for the both of you as it can lead you to ways to respond to certain problems and care for them in specific ways.
- Pay attention: As you encounter communication problems with your loved one, there are often visual cues that you can pick up on if they cannot express clearly how they feel. Changes in their face can express anger, sadness, or joy. Look out for these cues. This works the other way around, as well. Do not assume your loved one cannot tell how you feel. Communication is a two-way process.
- Help them find words when appropriate: Sometimes, filling in the blanks can offset frustration in your loved one. If you tell they are having a lot of trouble saying exactly what they want to say, then prompt a question repeating what you think they might be trying to vocalize. For example, if your loved one says “I hope you come” and if this isn’t making much sense in the context, then try to make sense of it yourself. For instance, you can respond, “You want me to come by tomorrow?”. To increase the chances that you can find the meaning of what your loved one is trying to say, pay close attention to their mood, the environment, or events that have occurred. This can all help you be an active listener and effective communicator.
If you have any more question, please call ElderCare at Home at 888-285-0093 or visit our website!