If you provide care for someone with dementia, you know that communication can be challenging to say the least. Whether you’re a family caregiver or a professional caregiver, you may feel ill-equipped, overwhelmed, or burnt out.
Fortunately, there are skills, techniques, and a person-centered perspective that can help.
In “What Every Alzheimer’s/Dementia Caregiver Must Know,”
an article on caregiver.com, Kim Warchol, OTR/L, president and founder of Dementia Care Specialists, recommends a number of approaches to dementia care, including:
- Get help. Join a support group through the Alzheimer’s Association, and build a dementia management team that includes the physician of the person with dementia, as well as an occupational, speech, and/or physical therapist who specializes in dementia care.
- Learn about the stages of dementia. This will help you provide care with the just-right challenge.
- Modify your communication. This includes giving one-step directions and allowing the person plenty of time to respond.
A Washington Post article, “Dementia Makes Communication Difficult, but Some Steps Can Make It Easier,” also outlines techniques such as the validation method, a practice developed by social worker Naomi Feil.
“As its name suggests,” writes Janice Lynch Schuster, “the practice is based on the idea of validating a patient’s experience—to empathize, even if what the person is expressing doesn’t seem to make sense.” This approach is designed to nurture the emotional needs of people with Alzheimer’s and dementia. Other techniques helpful to caregivers include deep breathing, movement, and listening.
Check out “Music Matters for People With Alzheimer’s and Related Dementias” for an inspiriting story about the effect music had on a man in the end stage of dementia.
- Learn how pet therapy helps reduce the agitation and loneliness that’s common among people living with dementia.