Communicating with someone struggling with all the challenges of Alzheimer’s, especially in the middle and later stages, may be frustrating – both for you and for the person you love. Brain changes affect the ability to listen, process, and respond appropriately to conversations, and it is up to us to put into practice new methods of communicating in dementia to more successfully connect and engage. Though it may seem counterintuitive, one method that can actually be highly effective is nonverbal communication.
It’s not as hard as you may think. We already communicate nonverbally in a variety of ways:
- Physical touch
- Posture and body movement
- Eye contact
- Facial expressions
- Personal space
How Can You Communicate Nonverbally With Someone With Alzheimer’s?
Try out these methods to integrate increased nonverbal communication into your interactions with a senior with dementia:
- Offer reassurance through caring touch. If your family member is comfortable with touch, hold and pat the senior’s hand, rub the person’s back, place an arm around his or her shoulders, and give warm hugs.
- Look the senior in the eye. Eye contact conveys interest in the individual, even if no words are spoken.
- Respect personal boundaries. Steer clear of overwhelming the senior by allowing ample personal space, and making sure you’re at the same level as the individual, never towering over him or her. Your face should be at eye level with the senior.
- Always keep a calm, patient demeanor. Refrain from expressing any anger, annoyance or impatience, and concentrate on keeping a relaxed and pleasant look on your face when with the person. If this proves to be difficult because of challenging behaviors, walk away briefly and practice deep breathing or other relaxation techniques, such as:
- 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. Do it again as needed.
- Calming phrase repetition: A few suggestions to help you get started: This will pass, and everything is 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 lyrics to a favorite song.
Find more innovative strategies for effective Alzheimer’s care by getting in touch with Carolina Hearts Home Care, the leading provider of senior care in Wagram and the surrounding areas. Our care providers are specially trained in the most current Alzheimer’s care techniques, and we are always available to assist a family member with dementia to remain safe and calm, and to enjoy life to his/her fullest possible potential. Call us at 1-855-277-2005 any time for assistance.