Difficulties that arise from not being able to communicate can lead to depression, anxiety, feeling of neglect, loss of personal stimulation and other basic needs of life. In many instances, language skills will vary “day to day”, and are different for each individual. Trying to accommodate all spectrums of dementia is challenging but by encouraging proper ways of communication, care-takers will be able to provided more valuable care.
We all need to communicate with other people, whether it is non-verbal or verbal. Communication gives us a sense of identity and helps us maintain our quality of life.
Non-verbal communication can be the most effective style of communication to connect with a person who has dementia. This can include facial expressions, touch, and gestures. It is important for family members and caregivers to pay attention to these behaviors, because it will make for a more purposeful relationship.
Here are six tips to effectively communicate with individuals non-verbally, and to help work through the challenges that caregivers and family members often face:
1. Personal Appearance
Appropriate clothes, hair and body scent can make a person with dementia more relaxed and comfortable with you, because that may remind them of someone they knew.
2. Approach Individuals from the front
People will become more familiar with you when they feel like they are being respected. By approaching them from the front, you will give them a chance to process who you are and what you are asking.
3. Body Language/ Eye Contact
A person with dementia will be able to detect your body language, sudden movements which can cause distress on the person and can make it hard to communicate. Demonstrating what is being asked will give the person a visual perception.Respect the person’s personal space but make sure to drop down to eye level, this will allow the individual to feel more comfortable and in control of the situation.
4. Facial Expressions
Tense facial expressions can also cause distress. Soft facial expressions and smiling will give the person enjoyment. So remember, something as simple as starting a conversation with a smile can go along way!
Physical contact will give the person a sense of care and affection. Simply by holding someones hand, rubbing their shoulder or giving them a hug will provide reassurance and comfort.
Music and dance can spark memories of happy times in a person’s life.Make sure to know what type of music a person enjoyed growing up and allow them to create moments of joy.
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