Communicating with Older People with Dementia

Dementia is a prolonged disorder of the mental process caused by brain injury or illness. The condition impairs an individual’s ability to communicate effectively and reduces the ability of a person to understand information. The person’s internal speech is reduced, thus lowering the patient’s capability to resolve a problem.

Communicating with older people who have dementia is quite a challenge. It requires a high level of competence in communication skills. However, there are ways in which one can improve their skills as suggested by Vries. Firstly, Vries (2013) suggest that skills could be improved through education and skills training on how to handle a dementia patient. Secondly, there is the use of recollection interventions and use of memory books, which helps in knowing about the patient’s background.

Nevertheless, to interact with people older people with dementia, their caregivers need to understand the communication challenges those individuals face. The challenges encountered by these patients make it difficult for them to express themselves or understand what they are told. The patient experiences the emotional agony that causes intermittent changes in moods hence affecting the communication between the patient and a caregiver (Vries, 2013). At times, these challenges cause conflicts between the caregivers and the patient, thereby affecting the quality of the relationship between them.

Vries (2013) avers that the caregivers, family, and friends need to understand the communication needs of the people with dementia. Since most of the dementia patients cannot express themselves fully, it is imperative for the caregivers to pay attention to every detail when communicating. They should focus more on the non-verbal communication and the emotional changes of the person. Through this aspect, the caregivers will be able to understand and communicate with the dementia patients effectively.

Thirdly, Vries (2013) points out that the caregivers should come up with strategies, which will enhance communication with older people who have dementia. Some of these approaches include differentiating the needs of an individual who have dissimilar forms of the condition. It is important to be aware of the different challenges one may experience when communicating with dementia patients. One of the most effective strategies is the use of a memory book where the caregiver collects information about the patient that helps in understanding the patient needs (Vries, 2013). It is also important for the caregiver to learn to listen to the patient since they will be able to understand them hence providing better health care. Lastly, the caregivers should use slow speech, repetition, and use closed questions to ensure the patient understands the details.

According to Vries (2013), there are actions that a caregiver may take in ensuring they effectively communicate with the patients. Firstly, the caregiver should always talk to the person near him/her as it makes them feel comfortable therefore enhancing communication. When talking to the patient, one should always maintain eye contact and at the same level since standing may seem intimidating. The technique would be effective for communicating with patients who are not visually impaired.

Secondly, to ensure that the patient understands the communication from the caregivers, the caretaker should speak calmly and clearly, while using short and simple sentences since this will help the patients comprehend the information presented. When asking questions, one should use questions that do not require complicated answers. Vries (2013) insists that it is advisable to use closed questions that require a yes or no answer. The strategy will be effective for patients who are extremely affected by dementia since they may not remember much.

On the other hand, an individual may adopt one of Watson’s caritas to implement the above nursing actions when providing care, especially when communicating with individuals who have dementia. Specifically, I would develop and sustain loving, trusting-caring relationships in my approach. Therefore, when love develops between the patient and the caregiver, both of them will be able to coexist, a situation that plays a significant role in understanding the needs of the patient (Watson, 2013). As such, the patient learns to trust the caregiver, hence ensuring effective communication between the two.

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