It can be hard to bond with a dementia patient as you do not know from one day to the next if they are going to recognise you. They will have moments of stunning clarity, but at other times they may not be aware of who you are, no matter how close you were to them before. There are a few tips for communicating and bonding with dementia patients which can help.
Familiar belongings and surroundings
Even if you have chosen to find a care home for your loved one, it is often possible for them to furnish the room with their own things. Adding familiar pieces of furniture, pictures on the wall, and even simple items such as their own duvet covers can help. You can then use these items as points of discussion to trigger memories and keep the familiarity. Make up photo albums for them which show the family over the years and keep these updated as time goes on.
Use the right tone
When you speak to them, ensure that your tone of voice is calm. Try not to confuse them by talking about too many different things at once and keep your sentences fairly short. This will help them to retain the information better and make it easier for them to converse with you. Ensure that your facial expression is also calm and that you do not make any agitated movements as this could lead to distress. Patience is also essential. Do not hurry them along if they take their time in answering you. Wait for them to process the information and formulate an answer in their own time.
Maintaining eye contact with them can be helpful and, if you need to, ensure you are sitting next to them, rather than standing over them, as this can be quite intimidating and can put them off communicating.
Spend time with them
Spending time with your loved one is essential. It is going to be harder for them to remember you if they do not see you very often, so try to get into a routine with your visits if you can. If they know that you are going to be there every Wednesday evening and Saturday afternoon then this is far better for them than you just turning up whenever you have a free minute. When with them, make a big effort to listen carefully to what they have to say, particularly for those who have trouble with their speech, or simply in finding the right word. Do not try to prompt them at all, as this can prove to be confusing.
When it comes to aged care facilities, Perth has plenty of options and the right surroundings can help dementia patients to feel settled and at home. Specially trained care assistants can also give you advice on how to bond with your loved one once they have been diagnosed with dementia or Alzheimer’s. These are degenerative illnesses which will become worse over time, and you do need to be prepared for the bonding process to be more difficult as time goes on.
Erin Warbrook is a freelance writer from Perth, Western Australia who specialises in health and safety related topics as well as new technology. Erin would like to thank Brightwater Care Group for the information and help with this article.