Are you concerned about connecting with someone who has dementia?
It could be a family member or friend. Or you might want to volunteer with seniors, but you are not sure how to handle being with someone with dementia.
Well this post is for you.
Your basic starting point in starting any interaction is to avoid startling the individual. Information is not processed as easily or quickly, so it is easy for an individual with dementia to misunderstand your approach. So, keep these tips in mind.
Approach them slowly and from the front, then move to the side to appear supportive rather than confrontational. A quick approach from the front can come across as confrontational and can create a defensive reaction. You may think you are moving normally but for someone with dementia it can be happening too fast.
Depending on the situation, you may even want to wait for them to approach you. Get close enough so that they can see you and then let them come the remaining few feet.
Try and meet them at their eye level. So, if they are sitting, and you are physically able to, sit or crouch so you are at eye level. Ideally you want to be at their eye level or below. Talking above or over their head will make them feel diminished. When you get down to their level physically, you send the message that you are in this with them.
Connect with Face and Voice
The way you interact can also be part of your approach. Introducing yourself creates a connection because you have given them an anchor for the conversation.
Use their name, introduce yourself and smile. Offer your hand in a handshake. Notice the pictures in their room and ask questions about them. Show interest in their lives by asking about their hobbies or their professional occupation. Even though they are retired from that occupation, it will still form part of their identity.
Keep your voice calm and clear. You will need to enunciate your words clearly so that you can be understood. Also make sure you are facing them when you speak so that they can also take advantage of lip-reading to aid their understanding.
Distractions or loud noises can add to their anxiety. You may need to physically move to a quieter room if you are talking or turn off the television i