5 Tips for Talking to Parents with Dementia

Watching the person, that you love have to disappear behind a veil of confusion can cause panic, anger, anxiety and a host of other feelings that make communicating with anyone difficult. Add to that the barrier of dementia and problems can quickly arise. 

How to Talk to an Ageing Parent with Respect

Talking to a dementia patient is difficult. But talking with someone you love and have a history with, like a grandparent or parent with dementia, is even harder. While you can’t bring back the person you remember, you can still communicate with your loved one and carry on your relationship.

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Starting conversations with phrases like, “Hi Grandma. It’s Jane, your granddaughter.” allows your grandparent or parent with dementia to find context, and eases their conversational burden. Likewise, offer context each time you bring new things into the conversation. This way, you can spend less time trying to fight through the fog, and more time present in the room with you.

Keep Things Simple

From the atmosphere to your sentences, keep things straightforward, simple and distraction-free. For the environment, that means having conversations in quiet areas with less action. For the discussion itself, that means sticking to one topic at a time, while using simple, straightforward grammar and vocabulary. However, that doesn’t mean you have to talk down to them. Child talk or simple language may get their back up. So keep it simple, but grown-up.

Stay Calm & Keep Your Tone Even

It can be frustrating talking to a stubborn, elderly parent with dementia who refuses help. The first thing that seems to fly out the window is talking to your ageing parent with respect. However, adding your excitement to the mix will only make the situation worse. Whether your ageing parent is being stubborn and refusing help, or somewhat vacant; it is essential to keep your voice calm to reassure them. And to balance out your feelings.

Give Them Time

The conversation has a rhythm, and it’s easy to fall into that rhythm when talking to a grandparent, or parent with dementia. However, that normal rhythm is often too fast, leading to misunderstanding. By slowing everything down, and give them plenty of time to respond, you can talk to your ageing parent with respect.

Body Language

Body language adds a whole new dimension to your communication and can help clarify what you’re trying to say. Keep your body language clear and broad to help your loved one follow along as you talk.

Maintaining a Relationship with Your Loved One(s) with Dementia

Dementia doesn’t mean the person you loved is gone, even when it seems like they’ve disappeared behind vacant eyes. Your loved one is still there. And by focusing on clear, concise communication, you can maintain your relationship despite the hardships; when your loved one needs you the most.

Visit Right at Home Winnipeg or your local Right at Home Canada branch for more information.

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