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Importance of Non-verbal Communication when Dealing with People with Dementia

dementia communicationAs Dementia and Alzheimer’s diseases progress, they eventually diminish a person’s ability to communicate. This means to the person who has Alzheimer’s, communication becomes stressful. For the person who is involved in Alzheimer’s care of the person, a different way of communication needs to be used along with verbal communication if verbal communication is still understood. This is where non-verbal communication comes into play.

Touching:

The simplest and easiest thing to do is to touch your loved one. A caring gesture, as an example, is to take one of the person’s hands in both of yours. This type of hand holding is very reassuring. You can also touch a shoulder or back when serving food or just walking past your loved one’s chair.

Facial expressions:

Facial expressions have six basic looks: surprise, disgust, sadness, happiness, anger or fear. Often, we use combinations of these without even knowing it. So be aware of what your facial expressions are telling someone else. A person will believe facial expressions before words. So, if you’re serving lunch and say, “You’ll enjoy this,” but make a disgusted face as a joke, don’t be surprised if your loved one doesn’t want to eat it. Too, if you’re in a bad mood, but you’re trying to talk in a cheerful voice, your facial expressions will reflect how you’re really feeling. This, in turn, can affect your senior.

Eye contact:

A person usually looks at someone or something they like, but looks away from something or someone that they don’t. Looking at someone conveys interest; looking away shows guilt or boredom.

Voice tone:

The tone of voice which is used is often even more important than what is being said especially to an Alzheimer’s sufferer. So how you speak, the pitch of your voice, the pauses and the silences can reveal what the emotions are behind the words that you’re speaking. Now dementia patients respond well to friendly voice tones, and your loved one is no exception. So, by speaking in a friendly loving voice, the chances are that your loved one will perk up and smile. A calming voice should also be used on someone who is excited or upset. When this is done, then your senior may forget what he or she was upset about.

Mind your non-verbal expressions when communicating with the loved one suffering from dementia.  You may notice then that you enjoy the company of your senior even more.

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