The holidays bring joy, but this can be a stressful time of year too.
Around Thanksgiving I had the opportunity to visit family, and we were able to bring Grandma home from the nursing home.
During the day she seemed distant and distracted, so after dinner I spent time chatting with her. Keep in mind—Grandma has always been a quiet person. It would be uncharacteristic for her to be super chatty.
Once I removed some distractions and ended up sitting on the floor to be at her eye level or below, we had a great conversation. We also talked during the meal about how excited she was about the holiday season. It was a short conversation (maybe 10 minutes)—she only spoke in short sentences—but she was engaged.
After she returned home, a family member commented that the only reason we had such a great conversation was that I work at Dementia Care Specialists, and I work with this stuff all the time. Grandma never talks with anyone else that way.
While it’s true that I work with an organization that helps caregivers and staff engage those they care for, many of the things I did I learned when I worked in long-term care
as a Certified Nursing Assistant. Many of the things I did come naturally to me. And many of the things I did anyone can do.
Here are some strategies I hope you find helpful:
If your loved one wears/needs glasses…
If your loved one wears/needs hearing aids…
- Are they wearing glasses?
- Are the glasses theirs?
- Are the lenses clean?
I also recommend that when you’re communicating you try to:
- Do they have them in?
- Are they in the correct ears?
- Are they turned on?
For more ideas, click below to download our Communication Tips eBook.
- Sit at eye level or below the person (in my case, I ended up sitting on the floor).
- Keep in mind that close-ended questions are often more helpful than open-ended questions. For example, “Would you like coffee, tea, or milk?” might be less overwhelming for your loved one than “What do you want to drink?”
- Take your time, giving your loved one time to process and respond.
- If possible, limit distractions like loud music.
I wish you and your family a very happy holiday season!