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With the New Year upon us, New Year’s resolutions are sure to follow. This is an opportunity for us to make things different, start something new or just improve on something we already have. When we have someone we love that is struggling with dementia, our resolutions might be to just get through the day without a problem or situation or looking back at what used to be.
This year, I challenge you to make resolutions regarding how you think about dementia, how you interact with people with dementia and how you take care of yourself in the process.
It has been scientifically proven over and over again, that the words you use can determine the mindset you have about any disease or symptom. The more positive your words are, the more your brain starts believing them to be true, which changes how you approach things. Simple changes in how you approach communicating with a loved one can have a big impact.
When interacting with person with dementia, always put the person first and then the problem, symptom or disease after. By putting the person first, we bring humanity back into the picture which automatically changes the way we approach and treat them. Change the way you look at or describe things. Use positive terms instead of ones with a negative connotation. Find their strength. Focus on what they still can do and their ability rather on what they can no longer do.
- Instead of “my demented grandmother” you can say “My grandmother who has dementia”
- If you have a person who “wanders”, you can say “they like to go for walks”
- If you view them as a “complainer”, you can say “they like to solve problems”
- If you view them as “agitated”, you can say “they are active”
- If you view them as “demented”, you can say “they are a little forgetful”
- If you view them as “manipulative”, you can say “they are resourceful”
Another way you can improve your communication and interaction with your loved one is to acknowledge within yourself that no one chooses this journey of what dementia brings, but those who are in involved with it have no choice but to learn how to navigate these very muddy waters. Help them be as successful as they can be in the conversation.
- Simplify your words- do not use big, fancy words or slang: it only cause more confusion
- Limit your questions or requests to no more than two at a time; this helps them to be able to actually respond without becoming overwhelmed
- Do not demand that they “remember” something; they have a cognitive disease and that only decreases self-esteem and the desire to participate in the conversation. REMEMBER TO NOT USE THE WORD REMEMBER; instead use the phrase “Tell me about…”
By sticking to these New Year’s resolutions to improve communication with your loved one, it will not only help them feel more successful and more willing to participate, it will help enhance your relationship with them, which in turn will help you feel more accomplished with them and more at ease with yourself.
Wishing you very Happy New Year, full of adventure and treasured moments.
Reference credit: www.oasis.today