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Terms in this set (35)

Before You Speak:
• When possible, if you are rushing or feeling stressed, try to take a moment to calm yourself.
• Consider what you are going to talk about. It may be useful to have an idea for a particular topic ready or to ask yourself what you want to achieve from the conversation.
• Make sure you have the person's full attention.
• Make sure that the person can see you clearly.
• Try to make eye contact. This will help the person focus on you.
• Minimize competing noises, such as the radio, TV, or other people's conversations.
How to Speak:
• Speak clearly and calmly.
• Speak at a slightly slower pace, allowing time between sentences for the person to process the information and to respond. This might seem like an uncomfortable pause to you, but it is important for supporting the person to communicate.
• Avoid speaking sharply or raising your voice, as this may distress the person.
• Use short, simple sentences.
• Don't talk about people with dementia as if they are not there or talk to them as you would to a young child—show respect and patience.
• Humour can help to bring you closer together and may relieve the pressure. Try to laugh together about misunderstandings and mistakes—it can help.
• Try to include the person in conversations with others. You may find this easier if you adapt the way you say things slightly. Being included in social groups can help people with dementia to preserve their sense of identity. It can also help to reduce feelings of exclusion and isolation.


What to Say:
• Try to be positive.
• Avoid asking too many direct questions. People with dementia can become frustrated if they can't find the answer. If you have to, ask questions one at a time, and phrase them in a way that allows for a "yes" or "no" answer.
• Try not to ask the person to make complicated decisions. Giving someone a choice is important when they can cope with it, but too many options can be confusing and frustrating.
• If the person doesn't understand what you are saying, try to get the message across in a different way rather than simply repeating the same thing. You could try breaking down complex explanations into smaller parts and perhaps also use written words or objects.
• As dementia progresses, the person may become confused about what is true and not true. If the person says something you know to be incorrect, try to find ways of steering the conversation around the subject rather than contradicting them directly. Try to see behind the content to the meaning or feelings they are sharing.


Listening:
• Listen carefully to what the person is saying, and give them plenty of encouragement.
• When you haven't understood fully, tell the person what you have understood and check with them to see if you are right.
• If the person has difficulty finding the right word or finishing a sentence, ask them to explain it in a different way. Listen for clues. Also pay attention to their body language. The expression on their face and the way they hold themselves and move about can give you clear signals about how they are feeling.
• If the person is feeling sad, let them express their feelings without trying to "jolly them along." Sometimes the best thing to do is to just listen and show that you care.
• Due to memory loss, some people won't remember things such as their medical history, family and friends. You will need to use your judgement and act appropriately around what they've said. For example, they might say that they have just eaten when you know they haven't.
Body Language and Physical

Contact:
• A person with dementia will read your body language. Sudden movements or a tense facial expression may cause upset or distress and can make communication more difficult.
• Make sure that your body language and facial expression match what you are saying.
• Never stand too close or stand over someone to communicate: It can feel intimidating. Instead, respect the person's personal space and drop below their eye level. This will help the person to feel more in control of the situation.
• Use physical contact to communicate your care and affection and to provide reassurance—don't underestimate the reassurance you can give by holding or patting the person's hand or putting your arm around them if it feels right.