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Helping your Loved One Who is Staying Alone

Dementia can affect your loved one's ability to communicate and go about their daily life. 

Learn about the different ways a person in the different stages of dementia talks to others, and how you can respond when communicating with them. You can also learn about ways to keep them engaged in everyday activities, using a daily routine, to keep them mentally and physically active.


if you need advice or support on dementia, you may email careinmind@aic.sg

Communicating across stages of Dementia


​Here are some ways dementia affects your loved one's ability to communicate with you and others. 


Early Dementia

  • Able to participate in meaningful conversation with difficulty in articulating certain words.
  • Able to communicate in brief social interactions with difficulty functioning in prolonged social settings.
  • Difficulty with following lengthy conversations.

Moderate Dementia

  • Able to follow simple one- step instructions.
  • May understand written information in a word-by- word process.
  • Conversations are hard to follow.
  • Repetitive.

Advanced Dementia

  • Difficulty with verbal communication as vocabulary may be reduced.
  • Use of non-verbal communication methods is recommended.
  • Verbal expression may be in patches or strings of words and sounds.
  • Use of non-verbal communication methods is recommended.

 

 

Guide to Communicating 


Dementia can affect your loved one's ability to communicate. They may communicate or interact with people differently than before.

 

Verbal Communication

  • Approach them with care. It is thoughtful to knock on the door or ask for their permission before you enter.
  • Always introduce yourself to them. Speak directly to your loved one. 
  • Communicate with them at eye level. 
  • Ensure that their physical space is comfortable and quiet. Engage with them in one-on-one conversations in a surrounding with minimal distractions.
  • Optimise your loved one's vision and hearing. Ensure that their glasses are properly worn and the lighting is sufficient; their hearing aids are in good working condition, and; that dentures are put on for clearer speech.

 

Non-Verbal Communication


  • SIGHT. Choose a quiet room with sufficient natural light. Use soft lights so that shadows and glaring brightness can be reduced. If possible, choose a colour that your loved one likes for the surroundings.
  • HEARING. Music can trigger memories, improving mood and allowing engagement. It's a good idea to play light, soothing and relaxing music, but it's best to understand your loved one's music preference.
  • SMELL. Scent the room with essential oils of lavender and lemon. These fragrances have been shown to reduce anxiety and agitation for people with dementia.
  • TOUCH. Never underestimate the power of a loving touch. Hold your loved one's hands or give them a light hand massage.

 

Do's and Don'ts When Communicating with Persons with Dementia

 

Consider these tips when communicating with them:

 

- Use different senses as a form of communication with your loved one

  • Give visual cues. If you do not understand your loved one, ask them to point or gesture as well. Written notes can be helpful when a spoken word seems confusing.

- Simplify what you say

  • Avoid lengthy conversations that require complex thinking. Break down tasks with clear, step-by-step instructions.

- Be patient

  • Speak slowly and clearly.
  • Take time to listen to what your loved one feels, thinks, or needs.
  • Give them a time to respond. 

- Be supportive

  • Offering comfort and reassurance can encourage them to open their thoughts to you.
  • Look for the intentions behind words or sounds.
  • Observe their body language. 

- Treat your loved one with dignity and respect

  • Keep eye contact as much as possible and acknowledge your understanding of their expression and words.
  • Do not exclude your loved one from conversations with others.

 


Designing a Daily Routine

Your loved one may have difficulties in performing their usual tasks as dementia progresses, so designing a daily routine is a good way to provide them with some structure. Planning activities they enjoy can be helpful in reducing agitation and improving your loved one's mood.

 

Before designing a daily routine, consider the following

  • Their likes, dislikes, strengths, abilities and interests
  • How your loved one used to plan his or her day
  • Times of the day when your loved one feels more alert
  • Ample time for meals, bathing, and dressing your loved one
  • Practising good sleeping habits by waking up and going to bed at regular timings 

More can be found here.

 

Activities to Engage your Loved One 

Keep your loved one mentally and physically active with suitable activities, so that they can feel happy and productive. In addition, people respond differently to various activities, so you should try them out and see which works best.

 

The important thing is to give them an enjoyable experience.
The outcome and product of the activity come second.


Here are some suggested activities to suit a lifestyle coping with dementia

 

Holistic Engagement and Activities with a Reassuring Touch


 

References

National Health Service (UK) – Communicating with someone w/ dementia

Communicating with Someone with Dementia

MESSAGE Communication in Dementia: Strategies for Home Carers - With Subtitles

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Learn about the different ways a person in the different stages of dementia talks to others, and how to communicate with them.
Learn about the different ways a person in the different stages of dementia talks to others, and how to communicate with them.
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