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7 Tips for Effective Non-Verbal Communication in Dementia Care

Jul 12, 2017

Dementia Patients

7 Tips for Effective Non-Verbal Communication in Dementia Care

Dementia is a progressive biological brain-disorder which gradually reduces a person's ability to communicate. Communication with a person with dementia demands patience, understanding and good listening skills. Knowing how to relate and communicate with your loved one during such times can be of immense importance to you. Encouraging non-verbal communication can be quite effective in dementia care.

Here are a few tips for dementia's communication that can help both you and the person with dementia understand each other better:

  1. Physical Touch and Hand Gestures

    It's not always required to suffice the gaps with words in order to communicate better. If you don't understand what is being said, ask the person suffering from dementia to point or gesture. You can provide the necessary reassurance and comfort to your loved one with simple gestures like holding hands, rubbing their shoulder, giving them a hug, etc. These gestures can prompt your loved one to express their preferences about whether they wish to stop or carry on with the communication.

  2. Establish Eye Contact

    Establish an eye contact while having a conversation with people suffering from dementia, since it's a very important aspect of a non-verbal communication technique. Also, try to encourage them to look at you when either of you are talking. This form of communication helps you to keep the conversation flowing and you can also assess your loved one's mood.

  3. Right Facial Expressions

    Offer a smile when speaking to your loved one with dementia. This conveys the message to them that you are happy or in a good mood. It also creates an ambiance of warmth and friendliness, making them feel comfortable with you. Figuring out facial expressions of your loved one correctly may be quite helpful to you in procuring the right treatment for them more quickly.

  4. Right Proximity

    The amount of physical proximity given can convey many emotions. You must be extremely cautious about your proximity to your loved one suffering from dementia. Pay attention to your proximity particularly to take notice whether the person you're communicating with is uncomfortable. Always try to maintain such a comfortable distance from the dementia patient so as to make them feel very secure in your presence, instead of getting intimidated with you.

  5. Posture and Body Language

    You must understand the significance of proper posture and body language when dealing with a loved one suffering from a dementia disorder. Right body language can prove to be quite beneficial while caring for your loved one. For example, swinging your leg back and forth can convey to them that you are impatient or disinterested, whereas sitting upright and facing them when talking can aid in effective communication.

  6. Tones and Sounds

    The tone of your voice and the sounds you emit can let out your thoughts to others, without even a word being spoken. Similarly, a person suffering from dementia can judge you based on your tone of voice and the sounds you that you make. Your tone or sounds can disclose to your loved one about your temper, annoyance or sarcasm. It's advisable to keep away from sighing frequently or speaking in a loud voice. The key to such type of non-verbal communication is speaking softly and calmly, as much as possible.

  7. Music Provides Connection

    It has been known since ages that music and chants like hymns and prayers are stored in portions of the brain that mostly remain resonant even in progressive stages of dementia. Music provides a means to connect with your loved one, even after verbal communication has become arduous. For example, a soothing piece of music can help create a calm environment and evoke happy memories in your loved one who is undergoing dementia.

You can explore the domain of non-verbal communication in order to get the best possible results and can thus reinforce your emotional connection to your loved ones.

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