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Communication and caregiving go hand-in-hand. When you talk to the person you are assisting, do they understand you? And do you understand them? When you care for a person who has hearing loss, it’s easy to mistake them for being uninterested or even cognitively slow. However, the reason they are not engaging may simply be because they can’t hear you. A few techniques can help care go smoothly:
Learning how to communicate effectively with someone who has a dementia related disease is very important. People living with dementia (particularly in late stage or, if earlier, on a bad day) are mentally stuck in their own version of reality. They may see, hear, and believe things that you know to be untrue, but you mustn’t try to convince them otherwise. If you argue, you’re setting yourself up for frustration, as your insistence will only worsen the person’s agitation and stress. If this happens repeatedly, the person will start to associate you with negative emotions, and your relationship will struggle.
As the brain deteriorates, the person living with dementia increasingly will have trouble using words to communicate their needs. Toward the end of the person’s disease journey, they may become verbally noncommunicative and use only grunts and outbursts to express dislike. If you remain calm, you can keep them calm, too. To improve your chances of being understood:
Take time to ask the person in your care how they are doing. Sometimes combative behavior is a symptom of a deeper issue. For example, a person may refuse to be bathed because they are feeling modest. Or they may refuse to eat in response to a sense of loss of control. Giving the person choices can make them more likely to cooperate.
Lastly, be patient. Your schedule may be overwhelming, but the person in your care is on their own schedule. Allow more time than usual for simple tasks. Too many activities at once can provoke a reaction because the person feels overwhelmed.
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