Our five senses sight, smell, taste, touch, and sound work together to supply our brains with what we typically call ‘sensory information’.
Depending on the stage of dementia your loved one will develop a reduced ability to understand their sensory environment.
It isn’t their fault. They can’t help it.
How many times have you said that you are leaving the house at 1pm, that you are off to see family, or going out for lunch which YOU have been looking forward for weeks and they look at you blankly.
It could very well be because they are now having problems picking out the different sounds which formulate the spoken word so in their heads it sounds completely scrambled.
Knowing this makes it understandable – but not easier to live with.
Your loved one is working so hard – harder than you would ever imagine to process and understand what they are hearing and trying to reply. Give them time to respond to you. Try not appear frustrated.
In time they will become highly sensitive to your tone of voice rather than what you are saying.
Think back – is there a list of scenarios where you will have prompted verbally, and they will have not responded?
Try not to let that frustration come through into your voice (we know that this can be hard). Try for your tone of voice to be neutral as possible and think about your body language which will begin to play a huge part in how you communicate. Perhaps rather than telling them again what you have said ten times over that you are going out, to a couple of words, ‘going out’ and moving towards the door, guiding them towards the door. In a reassuring comforting way. Being brisk is unhelpful.
Have you noticed this shift in behaviour?
Hearing and balance are interlinked so be mindful that this stage can lead to a greater risk of falls either through loss of balance or through disorientation due to trying to hear what is being said but the result being utter confusion.
Ensure your loved one’s feet are firmly planted and take more time to move together is imperative.
Remember that loud bangs and crashes are unhelpful, can be frightening for your loved one and lead to disorientation. Having the radio on with a low spoken voice is fine, favourite music absolutely.
Remember they can’t change their inability to communicate with you – so you need to work out how you communicate successfully and with love and tenderness which will offer you the best possible lifestyle.
As always if you need help or support the qualified Companion team at Ivy House are here to help – and want to. Contact Ivy on 01323 431 801 or email us.