- By Rose Hamilton
- Published 11/9/2012
If you are the primary caregiver of an elderly family member who has a progressive illness, you may have to face difficulty in communicating with the individual. Illnesses such as different forms of Dementia gradually reduce the communicative capabilities of the individual affected by it.
Caring for an elderly individual with Alzheimer’s may be difficult with time because of this difficulty in understanding their words and actions. The individual also faces the same difficulty in understanding the words of the caregiver.
In such a circumstance, you may benefit from part time courses that focus on enhancing communication skills between the care recipient and the caregiver. However, before you enrol in such a care course, you need to understand and accept that the individual affected by Alzheimer’s does not do this on purpose; it is just a symptom of this progressive illness.
The common symptoms of Alzheimer’s include losing the train of thought, facing difficulty in organising words, comprehending others’ words and using offensive or abusive language. Here are a few tips that can help you to cope with these difficulties.
Be clear. Introduction is important, as your elderly family member may not even remember you. You need to have a clear, straightforward manner to attract the attention of the individual.
Express interest. Stay close to your loved one and maintain eye contact while you try to communicate with him/her. This will ensure that they understand your attempt to listen and understand them.
Show respect. Using diminutive phrases and secondary baby talk may lead to agitation and offensive behaviour. It is better to talk to the individual in a direct manner. This will be a much better approach.
Maintain simplicity. Alzheimer’s may make it difficult for the individual to understand complex things and tasks. Ask simple questions, break down tasks into single units and stick to easy to understand words.
Use cues. It may be difficult for the individual to understand certain things you are saying. In such a situation, use visual cues. For example, point out the toothbrush to indicate the action of brushing.
Avoid distractions. It is often difficult to communicate with an elderly individual affected by Alzheimer’s. It becomes even more difficult if different sights and sounds distract the already diminished attention of the care recipient.
Do not interrupt. The reduction in communicative capabilities makes it difficult for the individual to frame thoughts and put them into words. If you hurry, criticise or correct them, they may not be able to do this.
Do not argue. The first thing you need to accept is that the illness has made it difficult for the individual to think in a cohesive manner. Arguing with someone who does not have this capability only aggravates offensive behaviour.
Stay calm. One of the first things that the care courses, such as Introduction to Nursing, help the caregiver to learn is acceptance of the illness and its effects. This, in turn, helps you to cope with the symptoms of the illness and stay calm. It will be of no use to be angry or miserable; the care recipient has no power to understand his/her problem.
Rose Hamilton has long been associated with an institute providing carer training courses. If you are looking for details regarding care courses such as Infection Prevention and Control or Occupational First Aid, she suggests you to visit http://www.comfortkeeperstraining.ie/.