Communication can be so much more than words. A look, gesture, or touch can communicate volumes. As dementia progresses in a loved one, it may well become necessary to experiment with various methods to stay connected. If you’re unsure where you should start, try these non-verbal communication tips to make dementia care easier:
Body Language and Movement
Visualize seeing a businessperson dashing along the sidewalk, shuffling papers in a folder or gripping a cell phone tightly in one hand while making exaggerated gestures using the other hand. It is possible to assume that individual is under some pressure, overwhelmed, and feeling rushed.
Now picture someone swaying gently side to side while cradling a baby in their arms. The emotions communicated are of calm, comfort, and peace.
Be mindful of your own personal body language during your interactions with a senior with Alzheimer’s, being careful not to project anger, impatience, or frustration. Slow, relaxed motions, with a comforting facial expression, will communicate to the person with dementia that all is safe and well.
Eye contact lets others know that you’re being attentive to them, and therefore what they have to say to you is important. For someone with dementia, this should include approaching the individual from the front so as not to surprise them, and keeping your face at their eye level. Refrain from getting too close, which is often intimidating, but rather respect their personal space.
Holding or patting the senior’s hand, giving a hug, shaking hands, or offering a gentle back rub are wonderful ways to show love or support, but make certain these types of physical gestures are welcomed. A senior with dementia who’s not at ease with being touched may become agitated and upset, or may feel as if these are condescending expressions. Watch out for any unfavorable responses and quickly stop any further physical touch if noted.
Even in the event the senior no longer understands the words you are saying, the tone of voice you use can frequently still be interpreted. Talk in a tranquil tone at a volume that is neither too loud nor too quiet. The senior might also like hearing you sing familiar songs, or even just humming. Again, focus on hints from the senior to ensure your voice isn’t provoking discomfort.
At Anthem Home Care, a provider of senior care in Corpus Christi, TX and surrounding areas, our in-home care team is uniquely trained in innovative approaches to socializing and connecting with those with Alzheimer’s disease along with other types of dementia.
We’re always here to offer further recommendations and information, along with the in-home respite care that provides you with the opportunity to step away for some self-care anytime you need. Taking good care of yourself is key to taking good care of a senior you love with dementia, and with Anthem Home Care by your side, both you and the senior you love will benefit.