Working as a caregiver for a senior with dementia in Vancouver, South Surrey, Surrey, Lower Mainland, Fraser Valley, and White Rock poses many challenges. People with conditions like Alzheimer’s and related disorders have a progressive biological brain disorder that makes it very difficult for them to remember things, think clearly, communicate well, and provide self care. As well, dementia can cause mood swings and even changes in a person’s personality. The following blog post written by our experienced caregivers of seniors with dementia related disorders in Vancouver, South Surrey, Surrey, Lower Mainland, Fraser Valley, and White Rock offers practical tips for overcoming communication difficulties often encountered during care time.
1. Use Simple Words and Sentences
Speaking slowly, clearly, and in a reassuring way is the key to interacting with clients with Dementia. Try not to raise your voice higher or louder; instead, aim to pitch your voice as low as possible. If the client does not understand the first time, use the same words to repeat yourself. If they still do not understand, wait a few minutes and reword your phrase or question. Allow them time to respond and process your requests and information.
Respond with Affection and Reassurance
Sufferers of Dementia may feel confused, nervous, and hesitant more often than others. Furthermore, they frequently get reality confused and may recall things that never took place. As a caregiver for seniors with Dementia, we recommend not to try to convince clients they are wrong. Rather, it is important to stay focused on the feelings they are demonstrating (which are real) and respond with verbal and physical expressions of comfort, understanding, and encouragement. Very often showing empathy and compassion (e.g., holding their hand, giving them a hug, praising them for their good work) will get them to respond positively when all else fails.
3. Using the “Good” Times to Communicate
If there is a time of day when the client will be more able to communicate (e.g., in the morning) try to use this time to ask any questions or talk about anything you need to. Make the most of ‘good’ days and find ways to work around the ‘bad’ ones. Many people with Dementia suffer from sundowning, which means they will function better in the morning than in the late afternoon or evening. Symptoms such as confusion and agitation are less pronounced as a result earlier in the day.
4. Pose Yes/No Questions
It is equally important as a caregiver to ask the care recipient questions one at a time. Questions should be phrased in a way that allows for a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ response (e.g., rather than asking someone what they would like to do, ask if they would like to go for a walk) or in a way that gives the person a choice (e.g. ‘would you like tea or coffee?’). Be mindful, individuals with dementia frequently adopt a default response strategy of answering “yes” when they are uncertain of the correct answer. It is therefore important to check for comprehension by repeating or showing/gesturing the action to avoid misunderstanding or agitation.
5. Use Mirroring to Improve Communication
People with dementia are apt to involuntarily mirror their caregiver’s feelings or activities. For example, they may follow you around and imitate the actions you perform. Instead of getting frustrated and asking them to stop, try to see how you can benefit from this. If giving the person a command does not evoke a response….perhaps showing them what you want them to do will work better.
6. Be Mindful of Body Language
Try to avoid standing too close to your client(s) or to stand over them when communicating – it can feel intimidating. Instead, respect the person’s personal space by dropping to or below their eye level. This will help the person to feel more in control of the situation.
We are not born knowing how to communicate with a person with dementia—but we can learn. Improving your communication skills will help make your career as a caregiver for seniors in Vancouver less stressful and will likely improve the quality of your relationship with your client.
Ace Personnel | Professional Caregivers for Seniors | Vancouver – Lower Mainland – Fraser Valley
If you need assistance with caregiver services for the elderly members of your family in the Vancouver, South Surrey, Surrey, Lower Mainland, Fraser Valley, White Rock areas, give our agency a call. We have trained and professional staff that will work around your schedule to ensure the most optimal care plan for your loved one. Click here to contact our agency today.