It’s not always easy to spend time with someone who has dementia. Conversation can be difficult, but a new study shows that spending meaningful time with other people is extremely important for the health of dementia patients. Social interaction can even make the jobs of family caregivers and senior care provider easier.
Social Interaction Study
Researchers in England conducted a study involving 847 people who were living in long-term care facilities. The study took place over a span of nine months. The researchers wanted to determine how just 60 total minutes (around 8.5 minutes per day) of conversation per week would impact the lives of those with dementia. The people who interacted with the patients had been trained to communicate more effectively with them, using a patient-centered approach in which they asked the person questions about things they enjoyed doing and about family members.
The results of the study showed an improvement in the quality of life for the participants. The patients experienced less agitation. They even had less physical pain.
There are several reasons it can be hard to talk to someone with dementia. You might worry about saying things that will upset them, the conversation can peter out quickly because they cannot follow the thread, or they may repeat the same question or story several times. Knowing some strategies for better communication can help. Here are a few tips:
- Don’t talk down to someone with dementia. Talk to them just as you would any other adult. Avoid “baby talk” where you use a high-pitched voice and get too close.
- Get the person’s attention by sitting face-to-face with them. You may need to gently touch them to get them to focus on you. Smile and make sure your body posture conveys a relaxed feeling so the person will be at ease.
- Ask simple questions that are easy to follow. It can be easier for dementia patients to respond to questions that give them a choice between two things rather than open-ended questions.
- Use some items to help the person to reminisce. A photo album or familiar items can bring back memories and give the two of you something to talk about.
Having a senior care provider who comes to the home to spend time with them can make a big difference in the quality of life for your aging loved one with dementia. A senior care provider can interact with the person through conversation and meaningful activities. In addition to increasing the amount of time they spend in conversation, a senior care provider can also assist with things like cooking, light housekeeping, medication reminders, dressing, and grooming.
When you are in need of care for a senior loved one, consider caregivers provided by Golden Heart Senior Care. We have offices nationwide. For more information, call us today at (800) 601-2792.