Communicating with your loved one with dementia can be challenging, stressful, and also joyful when there are moments of meaningful connection.
For family members and caregivers one way to decrease stress is to always have this one goal: enter their world. This means a variety of things. When they explain to you that it is Christmas in July, what is easier: a long, detailed explanation of the fact that Christmas is actually five months away, or saying “Merry Christ-mas!” and putting on a Christmas CD? You may want to work hard to persuade them of the “truth”, but for someone with dementia, you are spinning your wheels and creating anxiety in your loved one and yourself. Enter their world—that means, seeing the world as they see it, entering into that world, con-versing in that world, and affirming them. This encourages you to totally accept their disease and what that means for them. Sometimes we look at them and physically they look as if everything is okay and we may expect them to think and act like they used to. We forget that they have a disease, a progressive disease, that is causing the lapses in memory, the jumbled speech, and the lack of recognition. This type of total acceptance of the situation takes practice. But try it! Find ways to agree immediately, say “yes”, explore things with them by saying, “tell me more”. And, get out the keep-sake Santa and place him on the hearth for your loved one to enjoy while listening to Christmas carols in July!
Submitted by
Melody Thomas-Morgan Resident Relations Specialist of The Margaret T. Morris Center