Every person living with dementia is an individual with individual needs
It may take time to find the best ways to connect with your loved one, but persevere and don’t be hard on yourself if nothing seems to be working. There will be good days and bad days but, by following the tips in this book, you will find topics of conversation and activities that you can do together – and really enjoy.
Communication isn’t just about the conversation
We can all appreciate the simple pleasures in life, whatever our state of health - such as good food, hot baths and fresh air. Sometimes, the best way to communicate with someone is to simply do something they love doing – and you like doing with them.
Changes in behaviour are all part of the disease
Dementia can cause people to lash out, to lose their inhibitions, to forget someone they have known for 50 years or more. It can be hard at times – but don’t be offended, don’t get cross and don’t apologise for them in front of others. It’s the dementia doing the talking – not the person you thought you knew so well before.
Closed questions work better
So, rather than ask “what do you want to wear today?” say “would you like to wear the red cardigan or the blue one?” It’s little things like this that can make all the difference when communicating with someone living with dementia.
Do what you say you will
To someone living with dementia “see you later” means just that. If you don’t return “later” they can get very upset – especially if they are lonely. Think about how your words could be interpreted and try to be as literal with your choice of phrases as possible.
Sometimes it’s best to let go
One of the toughest things for families to cope with is the extent to which their loved one can change. However, life will become easier for everyone when it is accepted that things once so important to the relative, may no longer matter. Acknowledge, and love them, for who they are today.
It helps to try to see the world through the eyes of the person living with dementia
It’s a hard disease to understand but it’s important to know that living with dementia can make the everyday world unfamiliar, scary and unpredictable. As a visitor or a carer, you can provide reassurance not just through your words, but your tone of voice and touch.