Caring for dementia patients requires skill, understanding and compassion. The way you say something is often more important than what you say. It’s important for carers to understand that patients may be very stressed and frustrated by not being able to communicate.
Experienced carers of patients whose speech is affected by dementia are sensitive to their needs and listen actively. They encourage patients with smiles and gestures, ensure there are no distractions, and talk in a warm and calm voice. In addition, they talk about one thing at time and use simple language or pictures to get their message across. They refer to people by using their name, and the key thing is to show empathy and understanding.
Speech therapists are a key part of the multidisciplinary team providing care to speech-affected dementia patients. In addition, they help ensure awareness among home care workers, clinicians and others of the importance of improving communication outcomes for patients.
In the later stages of dementia, patients with communication problems often have trouble eating and drinking. Swallowing may be difficult and this where speech therapists need to work closely with clinicians to get the best outcomes.
Being able to converse with others is crucial for socializing. People who cannot communicate easily are more prone to becoming socially isolated. Research suggests that social isolation can cause dementia symptoms to progress more rapidly. So do have your speech therapy to help prevent dementia from affecting your speech and language.