Dementia is a condition that gets worse as time passes. Eventually, dementia changes the way a person communicates with others. They may lose their ability to reason and speak rationally. People with dementia often cannot understand what other are saying and cannot express their own thoughts and feelings. This can make communication frustrating for both the dementia patient and their caregivers. One way to relieve some of the frustration and make communication more effective is to learn to read and use body language.
What is Body Language?
Body language is the way we use our bodies and facial expressions to provide non-verbal cues. The cues tell others how we are feeling and help to make our meaning clearer. For example, when you ask someone to pass the salt, you may point at the salt shaker. This gesture makes is easier for the other person at the table to tell that you want them to hand you the salt.
Because much of the body language we use is automatic, even after people with dementia lose their ability to communicate verbally, their bodies may say how they are feeling or what they need. And, when they no longer understand what a caregiver or senior care provider is saying, they can still understand a gentle touch or a smile.
Tips for Using Body Language
There isn’t much you can do to change the way an older adult with dementia communicates using body language, but you can learn to pay more attention to what their non-verbal cues are telling you. Watch for signals they may give, like pointing to something. Look for facial expressions that tell you if they are angry, sad, or frustrated.
In terms of your own body language, you can use it to better express yourself to the older adult. Some ways to better use body language are:
- Try to keep your face relaxed and your expression positive.
- Avoid making sudden moves that can upset or frighten someone with dementia.
- Pay attention to whether your expression and posture match what you are saying.
- Don’t loom over the older adult or stand too close. It can feel threatening. Instead, sit across from them or drop to your knee to make eye contact and be on their level.
- Make positive physical contact to express your love and compassion. Hold the person’s hand. Touch their shoulder or offer a hug.
Senior care agencies do their best to match available staff members with the needs of their clients. This means that there’s a good chance the senior care provider matched with someone who has dementia will have experience with the condition. Senior care providers who have worked with other dementia patients, which makes them better equipped to handle the unique challenges of communicating with your loved one.
If You Or An Aging Loved One Are Considering Hiring Senior Care in St. Pete Beach, FL, Please Contact The Caring Staff At Assisting Hands Home Care Today! 727-748-4211.