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If you are in a position where you are caring for a loved one that has been diagnosed with a health issue like Alzheimer’s, you know that it can be challenging. Every day seems like an uphill battle due to changes in personality, memory loss, and a plethora of other behavioral challenges. In many cases, these issues are intensified due to the deterioration of communication skills. Therefore, it’s critical to learn about communicating with non-verbal seniors.

If you are caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease or other medical conditions and need help in or near Columbia, SC, contact Caring Healthcare. We have the experience and expertise to care for patients with a variety of needs from companionship to assistance with activities of daily living to medical needs and more.

In this article, we’ll offer some tips that can help you communicate with your non-verbal senior loved one.

Why is Non-Verbal Communication Important?

Non-verbal communication is important for individuals with Alzheimer’s because both spoken and written language is more challenging. This makes it more difficult for them to express themselves and understand others, increasing their frustration and behavioral problems.

There are several signs that your loved one is struggling with communication:

  • Struggling to find the right word
  • Swearing/cursing more often
  • Losing train of thought
  • Repeating the same word
  • Using gestures to convey meaning
  • Using a similar, incorrect word to describe something
  • Speaking less

Non-Verbal Communication Tips

Here are a few tips you can apply when communicating with non-verbal seniors:

  • Show them that you are paying attention by making eye contact.
  • If their condition has progressed to where they no longer recognize you, re-introduce yourself and shake their hand at every encounter.
  • If your loved one is seated, get on their level. It can be seen as aggressive if you stand over them.
  • While it may not seem like giving them space will help with communication- not giving them space, even when unintentional, can be seen as aggressive.
  • Avoid crossing your arms if possible, as this conveys anger and defensiveness- even if you don’t mean to.
  • Don’t make sudden movements, as this can seem threatening for your non-verbal loved one.
  • Point to or hand the object you are talking about to them- visual cues are often effective methods for communicating.
  • Increase “feel good” endorphins by smiling and laughing to express love and well-being.
  • Placing your hand on their arm or holding their hand can help them understand that you care for and support them. Be sure they see you before you touch them so you are less likely to startle them.

Practice Non-Verbal Communication

Even if your loved one is still able to verbally communicate, start practicing these techniques now. This will make the transition easier when verbal communication becomes challenging.

If you need help caring for your non-verbal loved one in or near Columbia, SC, contact Caring Healthcare. We offer a variety of services to help you and your loved one.