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Learning to Listen

Part 3: How to Communicate with a Loved One Experiencing Dementia

Communication involves the ability to talk and listen. Individuals who experience memory issues, may struggle with the give and take of a typical conversation. Receiving information, processing its meaning, and responding accordingly are all skills that typically diminish as Alzheimer’s disease or related dementia progresses.

Active listening involves providing your full attention to whoever is speaking, using your body language to show that you’re engaged, and deferring judgment of how or what is being said.

Let Them Know They’re Being Heard

There are a number of ways to encourage conversation with your loved one when you notice them having difficulties. Difficulties may present as hesitation to start conversations on Learning to listen more carefully will give your loved one the space and time they need to communicate their wants and needs to you. Active listening can involve a pat on the arm, responding with a smile, and remaining patient throughout the conversation.

  1. Use eye contact to convey you are paying attention.
  2. Avoid interrupting them, even if they’re repeating themselves.
  3. Don’t multitask while they’re talking. Give them your undivided attention.
  4. Reduce distractions from the television or radio.
  5. Clarify what they’re telling you by repeating the information back to them.

Using these active listening techniques will convey to your loved one that you are present, aware, and fully respect what they are saying.

Willow River is Here to Help

At Willow River, we understand the challenges that Alzheimer’s and dementia can bring. If you have questions or need help, Willow River has the answers and resources you need. Call Willow River Senior Living at 888-546-1886 or contact us through our website to start the conversation today.