Communicating with a person with dementia can be daunting. But I feel more confident after putting a few simple techniques into practice…
As it’s coming up to my two year anniversary of working alongside the Empowered Conversations team, I thought I’d take some time to explore the most interesting and surprising things I have discovered whilst learning more about dementia….
Hearing just how lonely and isolated people with dementia can feel, as well as the fact that the many tasks that people perform as ‘carers’ can seem never ending, thankless and often hidden to those who don’t know of the role, has strengthened my capacity to try and understand how best people with dementia and carers can feel listened to and supported.
Absolutely no one chooses to have dementia and to a degree I find the fact that family members and friends, who were close to the individuals before the disease, may find it too difficult or boring to visit a friend with dementia difficult to understand. This aspect of their life certainly wasn’t of their own making and the more a person with dementia can feel loved, the more likely it is that feelings of anger, disorientation, loneliness and confusion can ebb away, even if it’s just for a short time, which will hopefully make everyone involved in the interaction feel happier.
This is not to say that I don’t realise that thinking about how to communicate with an individual with dementia can often seem daunting, and even when one tries the communication techniques that we adopt at Empowered Conversations – such as Invitations To Respond – they can take time to become common knowledge, built into one’s mindset. Techniques can vary in effectiveness from day to day or hour to hour with aspects like the mood and abilities of the person with dementia being a determining factor. However, the fact that the techniques we promote are not as complex as one might fear and with practice and effort can become second nature, should make one feel much more confident about having positive or meaningful interactions with people with dementia in the future.
This was certainly true for me.