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Dementia and how to communicate easier

dementia communication Feb 03, 2019

Today, I want to share with you a new way to think about interacting with your loved one with dementia that will reduce the chances they will resist you when you try to give hands on care.

If you have ever tried to help your loved one change clothes, bathe, or help them eat just to find that they pushed you away or rejected your help, then this post will be helpful to you. By keeping this new way of thinking in your mind, I hope you will find that your loved one is more accepting of your help as many other Careblazers have found when using this approach.

If you prefer to watch a video on the this topic, you can click here

In dementia, a person often loses the ability to make sense of words. and they can have difficulty following sentences. They may also not understand they have dementia and need help. So when you go to help your loved one (i.e. bring a spoon to their face, wash their hair, or help take off their pants), it’s likely that they will back away, push you away, or get scared.

In your mind, you know you're trying to help. And you're probably feeling frustrated that your loved one is making it difficult for you to provide that help. But as we’ve mentioned before, it’s important we join our loved one’s world and try to look through their eyes. 

To your loved one, they may not understand you're trying to help. In some ways it may seem you're trying to hurt. After all, why would someone coming at them with a hand in the air, or trying to take off clothes, or moving their hand and so forth?! So here is something I want you to consider.

Because the brain between your loved one with dementia and you are so different, I want you to consider that you are interacting with someone from a different country, a different world, a different universe. The language and culture between your loved one's world and your world are completely different.

If you were trying to help someone from another universe or country, would you just go up to that person and start taking off their shoes if they were about to walk onto a white carpet or would you try to motion to your own shoes show what you're trying to get them to do or help them do?

If you were trying to get someone who didn’t speak your language or understand your customs to change their shirt, would you just say it in your language and then get upset when they didn’t follow your instruction? Or would you again be mindful of your non-verbals and try to show them what you are trying to do?

Would you approach them quickly and with a stressed face or would you move slowly, smile, and make sure your non-verbals are giving off friendly, calm vibes.

Could you imagine if someone from another country who didn’t speak English all of a sudden came at you trying to touch you, move you, and looked upset, stressed, or in a hurry? You would probably be very scared and push them away.

But if that same person smiled, moved slowly, and motioned what they were trying to do, it wouldn’t be so scary.

It’s easy to take for granted that your loved one knows what you want...but often times, they don’t. No matter how many times you are doing the same thing. Pause, think about them as being from another culture speaking a different language, and then attempt to help paying close attention to your body language and facial expressions.

Careblazer, what do you think about this new way of thinking? It really is like learning a whole new language when caring for someone with dementia. 

All my best, 

Dr. Natali


P.S. Did you know that I sometimes offer free online classes on how to manage caregiver stress? If you are interested in saving your seat to one of these classes, be sure to register right here



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