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(612) 791-0133

Visiting/Communication Tips with those with Memory Loss

Visiting and trying to communicate with someone who has memory loss can at times be so hard. You may only get a head nod, smirk or smile.  However, using these suggestions, you may find your loved one can communicate, be it verbal or non-verbal, but still in their own special way.

  1. Use Eye Contact. When having eye contact; the brain can more easily focus on you and what you are saying so your loved one can focus on your words.  Make sure you are down at their level and not standing over them. Gently holding their hand or touching their arm will also help get their attention focused on you. Always look directly at your loved one when speaking and remind them who you are each time you communicate with them.
  2. Use short phrase sentences; slow and clearly.  Too many phrases; complex ideas are too much for most memory loss loved ones to follow or understand.  Use the five senses when asking questions; smell, hear, sight, touch and taste. Give them an option of either/or questions. Sometimes using questions that require a yes/no is what is needed as well.
  3. Use Non-verbal language.  Always smile; watch their body language to see if you can’t make them more comfortable if they are agitated; shift your body to keep getting them to make eye contact with you. Follow their body language cues. Don’t have the television on or other noise distractions if possible. Photos of their family or personal interests also are great for non-verbal communication. Showing tenderness with a smile will help calm some of their agitation. Sometimes gently rubbing lotion on their hands will help calm them and is a wonderful non-verbal expression of tenderness. 
  4. Affection.  Show your loved one you love them; hug, smile and tell them they are important to you. Reminiscing about their past and telling them they did wonderful things is something we all love to hear. Give them your love and tenderness with a continually smile and gentle touch.  
  5. Patience.   Sometimes your loved one will become agitated or frustrated; if so, try to be a patient as possible. Your loved one will sense your frustration, stresses or agitation. In response they then become more agitated or upset.  Just remember that using your smile, calm voice and gentle touch can usually calm and soothe your loved one. If you need to walk away and take a break; do so, return with a smile, gentle touch and eye contact.

These are all just suggestions that are basic ways to communicate with loved ones with memory loss. If you can use these; you may find that special way your loved one can communicate.  Giving your time, love, and patience is a true gift and hopefully in return you receive the gift of their communication with you. 

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