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Meaningful Connections Part Two: A Knack for Meaningful Conversations

In our first Meaningful Connections blog, we discussed tips for beginning a conversation with a loved on who has dementia. In this month’s blog, we have some ideas for making your conversations meaningful, engaging and fulfilling for both you and your loved one.

As you know, a meaningful conversation is more than just exchanging words with one another. Connection occurs when we recognize each other as individual people, building upon existing relationships and shared interests and giving each other the opportunity to provide something to the other, whether it’s advice, assistance or even something as simple as a reason to laugh!

Making meaningful conversation when a loved one has dementia can seem difficult at first because what seems logical to you will not always make logical sense to them. However, by looking at the conversation from different angles and searching for positive ways to interact, you and your loved one can successfully communicate and have fun, too!

Make personal connections.

Does your mom collect antique thimbles? Or perhaps your dad was an avid woodworker? Bring some objects of meaning with you during a visit, and have your loved one talk about their importance. While short-term memory is one of the first things to go, dementia patients can often clearly remember their past. Ask them to tell a story about their childhood, or go through a photo album and talk about the memories behind each photo.

Use humor.

Sharing a joke is a form of communication in and of itself, and a sense of humor is always appreciated no matter how old or young we are. Whether you’re watching a comedy or favorite TV show, or simply giggling together over something you did or said, laughing releases endorphins and helps us bond together.

Present opportunities for wisdom and advice-sharing.

Everyone loves being asked their opinion, and for individuals with dementia, it’s a chance for you to show them you value their input. It can be anything as simple as asking their opinion on what color tie you should wear to an event to asking questions about life (“I love my boyfriend but I’m not sure I’m ready to get married. What do you think I should do, Grandma?”)

Have patience.

Listen with your ears, eyes and heart. Be patient and give your loved one plenty of time to respond after a question. If they’re obviously struggling to answer, it’s okay to suggest a word. Watch your loved one’s body language and be aware of the meanings and feelings beneath what they’re saying.

Speak simply and respectfully.

Talking quickly or using big words can be very confusing and cause your loved one to shut down. Instead, use simple words and short sentences. Speak slowly (but not overly so) and keep your voice calm and pleasant. If he or she doesn’t understand what you’re saying, repeat what you said. You may also need to rephrase or redirect the conversation if your loved one remains confused.  

Use photos to spur a connection

Bring out an old address book, school yearbook, church directory or photo album and go through each page together. The photos and names may trigger memories that will get your loved one talking. Be sure to have a pad and pen ready to jot down notes for posterity (particularly helpful if you’re going through old family photos).

Avalon Memory Care provides compassionate and supportive care for individuals with Alzheimer’s. Families are always welcome to visit their loved ones at our locations throughout Dallas, Houston, and Arlington. To learn for yourself what makes our services stand out, call us today at (972) 713-1383.

By |2019-03-22T08:50:38-05:00March 22nd, 2019|Categories: Memory Care|0 Comments

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