- Speak in short clear sentences. Don’t overwhelm the patient with lengthy explanations and reasoning. Leave the why of what you are hoping to accomplish. Remember, their ability to reason has been curtailed and additional information will only result in additional confusion.
- When you ask your loved one to do a physical task, break the request down into small easy-to-follow steps. Don’t just say, “Get out of bed.” Instead gently guide them through the process. First tell them to “Sit up”; then “Put your feet on the floor”; then “Hold onto your walker”; and then “Stand up slowly.”
- If they become frustrated or agitated when you are trying to convey information, stop and walk away. Do not argue with your loved one. Leave them alone for five or ten minutes so that they can calm down and relax. Most likely by the time you return they will be in a better and more cooperative frame of mind.
- When having a conversation with your loved one sit face-to-face. I have found that I was much more likely to connect to my mother-in-law when we sat close to each other with our knees almost touching. This enabled our eyes to meet and for her to focus on my moving lips. Eye contact always helps create a connection between two individuals.
Additional advice will be coming soon in ‘How to Communicate with a Dementia Patient – Part 2″