“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”
– George Bernard Shaw.
Whether your senior loved one has dementia, stroke (with resulting aphasia), or resulting medical and/or mental issues from other conditions, something seems to have been robbed from them. Their words falter. Short-term memories are fleeting while long-term memories may remain. They need more care, and they seem more child-like. In fact, you just can’t communicate with them like you always have.
These days, you feel like you’re filling a parental role for someone that used to take care of you. This role reversal can be difficult for both of you to navigate. You’ll have to learn how to communicate better with your senior loved one during this new phase of life by showing respect, dignity and not losing patience.
Treating Your Loved One with Respect and Dignity
No adult wants to be talked down to like they’re a child — even if medical conditions have made them seem more child-like. It’s important that your words and demeanor communicate to your loved one that you want to understand them, and you want what’s best for them in this life stage. It’s easy to take charge and be overtly controlling since you are doing a 360-degree turn as you step into a parental-like role. However, your senior loved one still values respect and wants their dignity intact.
Let them know you value their wishes and opinions. Follow these simple guidelines for showing respect to your loved one with dementia or aphasia:
- Use eye contact and speak at eye level if possible.
- Notice their body language to see when they may need a break from a task or conversation
- Keep sentences uncomplicated and short. Don’t bounce from topic to topic or respond to outward distractions: focus on just one issue at a time.
- Keep a normal speaking volume (unless your loved one is hearing impaired).
Don’t Lose Patience
Caring for and finding others to help care for your senior loved one isn’t easy. Another part of keeping dignity intact and respecting your loved one is not losing your patience. In fact, it’s stressful, especially when your loved one, your family members, and yourself are dealing with the news of a life-altering medical diagnosis like dementia.
- Keep in mind that your loved one cannot control their disease. They truly aren’t capable of lying or purposely trying to hurt your feelings.
- It’s up to you to soothe your loved one’s worries with respect and dignity while exercising patience.
- Pay utmost attention to their feelings and never respond with negativity and anger.
Here are a few more ways on how to communicate better:
- Express any unpleasant feelings by acting assertively not aggressively. It’s possible to state your opinion with your loved one while being respectful at the same time.
- Try communicating by writing or gestures if speaking is too difficult.
- Reduce distractions from other noise (like a nearby TV) while conversing.
- Change the scenery if necessary. Sometimes, leaving your loved one’s home and going for a walk or ride to the nearby Palos Verdes Peninsula will make your time together more peaceful and productive.
Even when your loved one has dementia or aphasia, you can still learn how to communicate better.
And, if you need respite or daily care for your loved one with dementia or aphasia, consider hiring an in-home caregiver. A Peaceful Way Home Care provides non-medical, in-home caregiver services. Our caregivers are trained to provide the utmost care to those diagnosed with dementia and aphasia. Contact us for a free in-home assessment: (310) 377-3776.