Talking with loved ones

February 11, 2021 by jas

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Learn ways to communicate
with loved ones who have dementia.

‘How’ to communicate with someone who has one of the dementia diseases was a topic I discovered I needed to learn more about as we went along our journey, especially in the later stages.

Just this month I have seen webinars, newsletter topics, handouts in mailings, Facebook ads and website articles announcing topics related to communication with loved ones with memory loss. It is a topic that each one will want to investigate related to the various issues being experienced.

Communication with our loved ones will become more difficult as they move along the dementia spectrum, as words lose their meanings, and understanding begins to fade. It is for the good of our relationships and ability to work together that we discover many ways to communicate to allow us to enjoy our time together.

I received a card from the Alzheimer Society with ten suggestions for communication.

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This list is helpful to inform us of what to be aware during visits. It makes sense to understand that approaching or talking with, or even being near, someone with dementia might have undesired consequences if we are unaware of possibilities that might occur.

WEBSITES TALK ABOUT COMMUNICATION

It is important that we know about communication options when we are talking to our loved ones. We want them to connect with words they understand, and so we need to know what to say. Even when words seem to be harder for our loved ones to recognize, there are ways to communicate.

Numerous websites devote space to discussions about communication. We learn that foremost, it is important that we listen to the loved ones as much as we speak to them so we can understand from their point of view. Learn more for your particular situation.

Alzheimer Association – US – Communication in Late Stages
Alzheimer’s Organization – UK – Tips for communicating with a person with dementia
Alzheimer Society Canada – Communicating with people living with dementia
Mayo Clinic – Alzheimer’s and dementia: Tips for better communication
US Govt National Institute of Aging – Alzheimer’s Caregiving: Changes in Communication Skills

HELP VISITORS WITH COMMUNICATION

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Words that tell about the person
help visitors communicate.

It has been suggested that topical illustrations be used, or a notebook of the loved one’s “My Story,” telling of their life and interests, be nearby for visitors to quickly glance through.

I envision the word art image framed. It offers “quick glance” topics in word form and can be meaningful when family or friends make them. The lettering can be artistic (selected from font list) so it can be on the wall as decoration. It helps anyone in the room see a word that might start a conversation. From this illustration: “What was your son’s name?” or “Did you sing and play piano?” could be found from reading this picture of MOM.

Recognizing that communication will be an issue, prepare with options that might make it easier. Being afraid to talk to someone who does not understand your words is not unusual, but can be overcome so that relationships can continue. Even though loved ones have problems with words, they still have feelings. Knowing ways to make them feel good will make your time together more meaningful and successful.

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Talking with loved ones (c) 2021 Judith Allen Shone

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