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Open Arms Academy

Three Communication Techniques for Speaking Dementia

Dementia and Occupational Therapy - Home caregiver and senior adult woman

Providing care for seniors with memory loss takes patience, compassion and specialized training — a trifecta combination not easily found in home caregivers despite the 47.5 million people living in the U.S. that have dementia and the 7.7 million new cases diagnosed every year.

To care for those suffering from memory loss, it is important to understand the different stages of the disease and the deficits of each one. The most common form of dementia is Alzheimer’s, caused by the decrease in brain chemicals responsible for communication between nerve cells. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, the progression of Alzheimer’s can be broken up into seven stages. These seven stages, though they happen over different lengths of time for each individual, cause a common experience for adult children and loved ones caring for aging parents. The adult child becomes the parent. This shift, along with the difficulties of caring for someone with physical and mental impairments, proves emotionally challenging.

To help with these challenges, there are a few fundamental strategies to help you and your loved ones communicate in the best way possible.

  1. Avoid asking short-term questions. Instead, focus on questions that call on the aging parents’ long-term memory.
  2. Live in their realityIf aging parents forget what year it is, go along with their reality (children do this brilliantly so try to have a little fun with it).
  3. Pay attention to their emotions and respond accordingly. If an aging parent expresses anger or fear, respond with calming phrases, like “We will make sure you’re safe.”

These strategies are a few that OAS caregivers are trained to use along with Dr. Verna Benner Carson’s time-proven Alzheimer’s Whisperer techniques, which are carefully coordinated to the different stages. A few of these techniques include:

  • Testing an aging parent’s cognitive level using the Mini-Cog exam and simplifying communication based on the results.
  • Offering assistance rather than giving demands.
  • Redirecting repetitive questions by allowing aging parents to engage in repetitive activities.
  • Recognizing signs of pain and responding accordingly.

The agency’s founder’s mother suffered from dementia so OAS knows how important it is for caregivers to understand the most relevant and effective approaches to caring for those who suffer from the disease.

If you are looking for a way to support families suffering from Alzheimer’s, join Open Arms Solutions at the 2017 Walk to End Alzheimer’s in Glenview on September 16th. To find a home care agency that has unique and specialized training in caring 24/7 for people with memory loss or to learn more about the Alzheimer’s and dementia training at Open Arms Solutions, visit or call (847) 272-4997.



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