If you’re talking with your loved one over the phone, the conversation is harder when you aren’t in each other’s presence. How can you make your phone calls go well when talking to your loved one?
Continue reading to learn more about the best ways to talk to someone with dementia on the phone.
How You Can Make Talking on the Phone Easier for Your Loved One
Speaking to someone with dementia, in general, can be a challenge, but adding technology can make things more complicated.
Many aspects of communication (touch, sight, gestures, and more) are lost when talking over the phone, making it harder for your loved one to understand. It’s easier to become confused, so you need to make an extra effort during the conversation.
There are several ways you can make phone calls easier when talking to someone with dementia.
Find a Schedule that Works for Them
Calling when your loved one is rested, alert, and comfortable can help make a phone call easier. Dementia can affect the sleep cycle, making your loved one sleep longer, nap during the day, or have difficulty falling asleep.
They may get tired earlier in the day than you, so consider their energy levels when you call. Your loved one may have difficulty communicating if they’re feeling drowsy.
It may take a while to figure out their general energy levels, but you’ll eventually learn what time of day is best to call. Remember that their energy levels may change as dementia progresses, so be prepared to change the times you call when necessary.
Speak Slowly & Directly
If you’re a fast-talking storyteller, you may get your loved one lost in the details of what you’re saying. This issue can be even more apparent when talking over the phone. Connection issues can cause your voice to lag out at times and remove audio.
Slow down your speaking and use direct sentences when talking to your loved one. Give them time to process this information—dementia can affect their processing ability.
Remember that silence isn’t bad. Don’t try to fill the space. Giving your loved one time to speak can make for an easier and more productive conversation.
Use Easy-to-Understand Language & Sentences
People naturally use large vocabularies but try to focus on simple words and sentences. Using easy-to-understand words can make it easier to get your point across to your loved one.
It’s common to add extra details or tell a long-winded story, but your loved one may get lost while you explain everything. Short, simple sentences are the way to go, especially when talking over the phone.
Here is an example:
- Do: “I went out for lunch today and got a good sandwich.”
- Don’t: “I was out shopping today and realized I was hungry, so I tried a few different places but couldn’t find anything. Eventually, I found this one place that sold sandwiches, and I got a pretty good BLT.”
Don’t Focus on the Past, but Let Them Lead the Conversation
Reminiscing is a natural part of a conversation, but it can be difficult for someone with dementia, especially Alzheimer’s. Short-term memory can be a challenge, and long-term memories can be hard to recall with time. Your loved one may not know what you’re talking about when you bring up the past.
You can focus your conversation on the present moment to help with this. You can ask your loved one about the surrounding area or their current feelings.
While you shouldn’t focus on the past too often, don’t shy away from it if your loved one recalls a memory. You can join in that memory and say how it makes you feel.
Join Their Reality
Confusion is normal with dementia, and your loved one may experience this. They may ask the same question or tell the same story repeatedly. They might call you by the wrong name or think you’re a different person.
It’s important to have empathy and understanding when speaking with your loved one. Know that to your loved one—they’re asking that question or telling that story for the first time. Try not to correct your loved one and let the conversation flow as they want.
You Can Make Life Easier for Your Loved One
Dementia can make more than everyday conversation difficult—daily activities like eating, dressing, and bathing may be a struggle. However, you can provide your loved one with a safe and fulfilling life when they join a memory care community. The services offered by these communities provide your loved one with the daily support and care they need.
Contact your local senior living community if you’re interested in memory care.