Time to Talk: How Communication Benefits Those Living With Dementia

January can be an incredibly hard month for many, but it can be especially hard-hitting for those living with dementia.

The festive period is often jam-packed with family occasions and gatherings, making the sudden quiet of the year’s first month leave many feeling alone and down. These emotions can be hard for those living with dementia, often leading to a negative impact on their health.

Communication and ongoing companionship can be a great way to support people through those emotions. However, it’s something that many don’t always take into consideration.

While those in the later stages of the condition can’t always communicate verbally, many sources of research suggest that individuals still retain their sense of self. This makes social activities and hobbies both still vital for the person’s happiness.

Communication and dementia

It can be easy to assume that when a person no longer communicates or needs to spend more time in bed or asleep, they no longer want to take part in activities. However, those living with any stage of dementia will still experience a range of emotions and feelings, including loneliness.

Often, small visual cues are noticeable. This could include smiles, a handgrip or eye movement. All of these movements can indicate different emotions, desires, or even that they are paying attention.

Benefits of communication

It’s well documented that different modes of communication have had positive effects on an individual with dementia. A couple of years ago, the experience of Gladys Wilson highlighted the impact that different modes of communication can have.

After being diagnosed with dementia in 2000, in 2009 she was in the later stages and lost mobility along with the ability to communicate. Her carer, Naomi, played some of Gladys’ favourite music from when she was younger. The reaction was heart-warming: she began tapping along to music and managed to sing along to some verses.

This is just one example that demonstrates how sounds can have a considerable impact. This highlights that it’s vital for the quality of life of those living with dementia that they still access things that will make them happy and content.

Communicating effectively

There are plenty of simple ways to communicate with friends and family living with dementia. Many people have been seen to benefit from simple companionship. Even if it’s just responding to different noises or motions that are made, it’s a simple thing to reduce any feelings of loneliness.

Other tips to aid communication include keeping eye contact while talking or responding to them. Smiling and using a relaxed tone of voice can also help with calming individuals and making them feel comfortable. Additionally, match verbal communication with appropriate physical contact. This could be motions such as holding their hand or supporting their arm as this can be an excellent way to offer reassurance.

Also, try to mirror their physical cues or verbal noises. Responding to them in a similar fashion to how they communicate with you can help them feel comfortable when expressing themselves.

Here at The Beeches Residential Home, we take time to communicate calmly and effectively with every member of our community.

Our extensive experience with dementia in its later stages has helped us identify critical modes of communication to ensure everyone retains a good quality of life.

The Beeches community are also able to enjoy time in a range of communal areas. This gives many residents the chance to communicate with one another and develop companionship.

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