Dementia care means making adjustments. Individuals with dementia may require help with mealtime, bathing, and transportation around town, all of which can be relatively straightforward modifications. However, when the disease begins to impact communication, it can be particularly challenging for the individual with dementia, as well as for the family caregiver.
Finding the most effective ways of communicating with an individual who has dementia often involves trial and error, especially as the condition progresses. Because dementia alters the way an individual hears, processes, and responds to language and conversation, it’s necessary to make adjustments to match the person’s abilities. Incorporating more nonverbal communication techniques such as body language, facial expressions, and gestures helps to convey the meaning of language, and can reduce confusion and anger and increase cooperation.
Nonverbal Communication Techniques
The following are common nonverbal methods of communicating:
- Eye contact – The way a person looks at someone can say a lot. Eye contact can help communicate a sense of emotion and can also help gauge a person’s reactions and interest.
- Gestures – Pointing and waving are two common gestures that people use to emphasize emotion when speaking.
- Facial expressions – A person’s face can express a variety of emotions – happiness, sadness, surprise, fear, and anger, to name a few.
- Posture – The way someone’s body is positioned can communicate a lot about their mood and general state of mind.
- Voice – The volume and tone of a person’s voice enhances the meaning of words.
How Can Nonverbal Communication Techniques Be Used in Dementia Care?
Nonverbal communication techniques can be extremely helpful as dementia progresses and as verbal communication becomes more challenging. Incorporating nonverbal communication techniques can help enhance understanding and reduce anxiety and confusion for the individual with dementia.
- Be positive and maintain a relaxed voice and face. Speak in a friendly tone and maintain a happy look on your face. A tense facial expression or raised voice communicates frustration and can cause distress.
- Remain patient and calm. Projecting a calm and positive attitude encourages communication and reduces tension.
- Make eye contact. When wanting to speak with the individual, approach from the front and keep your face below or at their eye level. Maintain eye contact during the conversation to help show your engagement in the interaction.
- Respect personal space. Standing or sitting too close can feel intimidating and can increase anxiousness.
- Use physical touch. Physical touch, if the person is comfortable with this, can provide reassurance and comfort.
- Be consistent. It’s important that facial expressions, body language, and other nonverbal communication techniques match the words being spoken. Adjust responses and actions if the person shows signs of frustration, confusion, fear, or anger.
How Can Home Care Help?
One of the best ways to make sure a person you love with dementia receives exceptional care is by partnering with a dementia care expert. At Abrio Home Care, we offer a variety of specialized dementia care services that help individuals remain safe and engaged in the comfort of home. Additionally, we offer respite care for family caregivers, allowing you to take breaks from care in order to maintain your own health and wellbeing.
If you would like to learn more about our home care services, contact us online or at 877-71-ABRIO to learn how we can help someone you love in Phoenix, Mesa, Prescott, Yuma, and the surrounding communities.