Communication with a senior trying to cope with all the struggles of Alzheimer’s, particularly in the middle and later stages, is often frustrating – both for you as well as for your loved one. Brain changes affect the capacity to listen, process, and respond effectively to conversations, and it’s up to us to implement innovative methods of communicating to more successfully interact with a loved one with dementia, such as by incorporating nonverbal communication tips.
The good thing is, it’s considerably easier than it might appear. We already communicate nonverbally in a variety of ways:
- Posture and body movement
- Eye contact
- Facial expressions
- Personal space
- Offer reassurance through kind touch. If a senior loved one is comfortable with touch, hold and pat the senior’s hand, massage the senior’s back, put an arm around his or her shoulders, and provide warm hugs.
- Look the person in the eye. Eye contact transmits interest in the senior, even when no words are spoken.
- Respect personal boundaries. Avoid overwhelming the person by permitting plenty of personal space, and making sure you are at the same level as the individual, never towering over him or her. Your face should always be at eye level with the senior.
- Maintain a relaxed, patient, and positive attitude. Curb any anger, annoyance or impatience, and focus on maintaining a calm and pleasant look on your face when with the senior. If this turns out to be difficult due to challenging behaviors, walk away momentarily and perform deep breathing or some other relaxation techniques; for example:
- Square breathing: Use a finger to draw the shape of a square in front of you. When tracing the 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 many times as needed.
- Calming phrase repetition: A few examples to get you started: This will pass, and things are ok. I’m able to handle this. I am safe and well.
- Distracted thinking: Practice concentrated refocusing. Try saying the alphabet backwards, listing as many state capitals as you can, or singing the words to a popular song.
Discover more innovative techniques to successful Alzheimer’s care by getting in touch with Harmony Home Health & Hospice. Our caregivers in Provo and the surrounding areas can provide professional home health care services to ensure your loved one has the care they need to stay safe and happy at home during recovery. Reach out to us at 877-463-3322 at any time for assistance.