Communication is the exchange of information in the form of messages, symbols, thoughts, signs, and opinions (Aarti, R., 2009). There are many different types of communication, but there are only a few that are effective when working with dementia residents.
Verbal communication is the most common form to use. It involves the use of words or sounds, spoken or written (Alvare, S., Fuzy, J., & Rymer, S, 2009). It is important to remember to speak to everyone with kindness, compassion, and respect. Do not yell or speak loudly. Use short sentences so the resident can follow directions easier. When working with dementia residents, it is the most important part of daily care. Speaking slowly, clearly, and face-to-face is the best way to communicate with dementia residents. Eye contact is very important. The tone of your voice can have an effect on the resident.
Non-verbal communication is the way we communicate without using words (Alvare, S., Fuzy, J., & Rymer, S., 2009). Body language is easy to understand. Anger is very simple to display and hard to control. When assisting a resident, be careful how you stand, hold your arms, and keep your facial expressions as neutral as you can. If you stand with your arms crossed, you show anger. If you have a frown on your face, you show anger. If you are standing with your hands on your hips, it shows anger. Always be aware of your body language.
Always approach a dementia resident from the front. If you happen to start talking or if you touch them without them seeing you, they become startled and may try to hit you. Be respectful, and think about the reaction you may cause with your behavior. Identify yourself before speaking, and use the resident’s name. This will help spark their memory.