November 12, 2019 by Dean Bellefeuille

adult-daughter-hugging-senior-mother

Connecting with a senior trying to cope with the struggles of Alzheimer’s, especially in the middle and later stages, could very well be frustrating – both for you and for a senior loved one. Brain changes impact the ability to listen, process, and respond effectively to conversations, and it’s up to us to put into action new approaches to communicating to more successfully connect with an individual with dementia.

The good thing is, it is less complicated than you might think. We already communicate nonverbally in a variety of ways:

  • Touch
  • Posture and body movement
  • Eye contact
  • Facial expressions
  • Gestures
  • Personal space

Try these methods to include increased nonverbal communication in your interactions with a loved one with dementia:

  • Offer reassurance through gentle touch. If a loved one is comfortable with touch, hold and pat the senior’s hand, rub the senior’s back, place an arm around his/her shoulders, and offer affectionate hugs.
  • Look your loved one in the eye. Eye contact communicates interest in the senior, even when no words are said aloud.
  • Recognize personal boundaries. Refrain from intimidating the person by allowing plenty of personal space, and making certain you are at the same level as the individual, never towering over her or him. Your face should always be at eye level with the older adult.
  • Maintain a peaceful, patient, and confident manner. Suppress any anger, aggravation or impatience, and concentrate on keeping a relaxed and pleasant expression on your face when with a senior loved one. If this turns out to be impossible because of difficult behaviors, walk away momentarily and practice deep breathing or some other relaxation strategies, such as:
    • Square breathing: Use a finger to trace the shape of a square in front of you. When tracing the very first side, breathe in deeply for a count of three; for the following side, hold your breath for one second; for the third side, breathe out for a count of three; and for the fourth side, hold your breath for one second. Repeat as needed.
    • Soothing phrase repetition: A couple suggestions to get you started: This will pass, and things are ok. I can manage this. I am secure and well.
    • Distracted thinking: Practice concentrated refocusing. Try saying the alphabet backwards, listing as many state capitals as you possibly can, or singing the lyrics to a favorite song.

Discover more innovative approaches to successful Alzheimer’s care by getting in touch with At Home Independent Living, leading providers of dementia care Syracuse, NY and the surrounding areas depend on. Our care providers are specially trained in the most current Alzheimer’s care techniques, and we are always available to assist a loved one with dementia to remain safe and calm, and to enjoy life to the greatest possible potential. Call us at (315) 579-HOME (4663)  any time for assistance.