My parents were the inspiration for my business. I took what I learned about being a caregiver for my aging parents and turned it into a business, as a health advocate, to help others in the same situation.

When my father was diagnosed with cancer, I had to learn more about his specific cancer and how to manage the different aspects of his care.

Caregiving activities for someone with cancer range from helping with acts of daily living to knowing how to work with insurance companies, how to deal with side effects of the treatment, and how to afford the increasing costs of care.

Thankfully, cancer never impacted my father’s cognitive ability so he was able to participate in conversations about how to troubleshoot some issues related to his care.

When my mom developed memory issues, in the form of Alzheimer’s, I had to learn a new way of caregiving. One of the harder things I had to learn was how to communicate with her in a way that made her feel safe and secure.

As the stages of dementia progress, you may notice that your loved one may experience difficulty finding the right words or lose their train of thought. They can struggle with organizing their words in a logical fashion. In the final stages of the disease, they may lose their ability to communicate.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, almost 6 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s. For the millions of family members who are now caregivers for a person with dementia, the ability to communicate with their loved one is slowly being taken away.

When communicating with someone with dementia consider the following;

·       Speak directly to them and maintain good eye contact

·       Avoid distractions by being in a quiet space

·       Give them time to respond to the conversation

·       Include them in conversations about current events, or stories about family members

·       Ask open-ended questions about their past  

·       Enjoy a good laugh to lighten the mood

Some of the best times I have with my mom are when we pull out her high school yearbook. My mom has always had fond memories of her high school days. A few years ago I had her yearbook rebound as a Christmas gift because it was falling apart from frequent use.

My mom always amazes me when she goes through her yearbook and lights up as she talks about her teachers and classmates. She often cannot remember what happened today, but conversations about the past can lighten the mood and make for a memorable day!

For the millions of caregivers that are caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s, you are not alone in your struggle to communicate with your family member. To learn more about communication skills visit the Alzheimer’s Association at alz.org. Looking for more helpful caregiving tips and to learn more about Severino Health Advisors, contact us today!