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17 Things To Remember If Your Loved Ones Have Dementia

17 Things To Remember If Your Loved Ones Have Dementia

Many people mistake dementia as a disease and as a natural consequence of getting older when it is actually the result of damage to brain cells that affect memory. Dementia affects 47.5 million people today and there is no cure for this syndrome.

Even though Alzheimer’s accounts for 60 to 80 percent of dementia cases, many forms of dementia are a result of injury or stroke. Consequently, dementia is not always progressive and can have an immediate impact on families and friends who aren’t prepared.

For many who have dementia, they face unfair criticism because there’s no test to determine if one has this syndrome. Not surprisingly, people who have dementia can be incredibly confused about why they are having memory problems.

The good news: doctors can determine whether a person has dementia with a high degree of confidence. Still, we must stay vigilant to not criticize or condemn others when they forget things because the truth is we don’t know the cause until it’s identified.

And if you can remember these seventeen things, you’ll have a better understanding of the challenges your loved one with dementia experiences:

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1. They will lose their sense of direction

People with dementia have a tendency to lose their sense of direction. It can start with forgetting particular landmarks that once helped them navigate their neighborhood. As a result, you should help them by making lists of where they like to go with detailed and visual instructions.

2. They will lose track of where they keep things

“I can’t remember where I put my keys!” From the smallest things that fit in our pocket to the bigger possessions in our lives like cars, forgetting them can’t take a tremendous mental and often physical toll on people with dementia.

3. They will repeat themselves

“I heard that story yesterday.” People with dementia forget many of the things they say, especially stories. Be careful not to interrupt them and belittle their enthusiasm to tell a story you’ve heard for the tenth time. Instead, ask different questions each time they’re deep in storytelling so the story will take on a new life.

4. They will find difficulty in doing simple tasks

From balancing a checkbook to playing poker, simple tasks will begin to seem more complicated to them. As a result, they may get frustrated with the task and even at others. Don’t let their mood affect yours and remain motivated and willing to help them.

5. They won’t always follow a storyline

Not only will people with dementia repeat stories, but they may leave out huge pieces of the stories they tell. From forgetting particular words to being unable to follow a T.V. show storyline, these are classic warning signs to look out for.

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6. They can lack empathy

Having dementia can be a burden on your confidence, adventure, and emotional well-being. Consequently, people with dementia may stop going out and participating in their regular hobbies and activities. I suggest trying your best to excite them about having fun because depression makes having dementia much worse.

7. They can become angry quickly

Sudden anger outbursts, depression, and heightened hysteria are all signs of dementia. Also, it’s not always just a one-time thing, you may see a complete change in personality because when memory is affected, judgment is too.

8. They will find themselves confused

When it’s difficult to remember friends, family, and faces, people with dementia can experience overwhelming confusion. Moreover, when they try to fix the issue by explaining their point of view, they often can’t find the right words; this exacerbates the problem. Stay kind and comforting while they go through periods of disorientation.

9. They will struggle to adapt to change

Imagine being told you have dementia. Many people would react with fear and shock. Having dementia means you need to take precautionary steps to prepare for increasing symptoms. Adventurous and independent people may see these steps as irrational and as obstacles to living their normal lives.

10. They won’t always remember they love you

This is one of the hardest characteristics of dementia that affects loved ones. Having sparent, grandparents, or siblings forget who you are can be extremely tough to bear. You have to remember that it’s not them, but the symptoms of dementia. Deep down inside they will always love you.

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11. They need friendship more than ever

People with dementia can feel isolated because it’s hard to prepare for worsening symptoms, and they may perceive that they’re going through this “journey” alone. Make sure they have constant reminders that you’re there for them and won’t be leaving anytime soon.

12. They are just as uncertain about the future as you are

Whether you’re a recent college graduate or in your late seventies, all of us are uncertain about what the future holds in terms of accomplishing our goals. It’s important we realize that many people with dementia have dreams they still want to achieve, too. Moreover, we should try to help them achieve these dreams before they get discouraged.

13. They are part of the nearly 7.7 million worldwide new cases of dementia each year

In other words, one new case happens every four seconds. This doesn’t mean that people with dementia are just a statistic. What this means is that dementia is a common struggle that millions of people go through. As a result, it’s important to reach out for help and advice from those who have gone through the same struggle.

14. They may not recognize the same sounds as they are used to

The music your loved one once adored now disturbs them, or they’ve suddenly taken an interest in jazz. Finding the right music for someone with dementia can be a bit of a roller coaster ride. The upside is that once you find something that attracts their taste, you’ll more than likely put a smile on their face.

15. They are not carrying a disease

People often confuse dementia as a natural disease that people receive as they age. However, dementia is not natural and not something someone else can give you — it’s just a syndrome. We should strive to educate others about dementia, so they are not scared to help.

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16. They may have problems moving

People with dementia can find themselves in prolonged states of immobility. When someone’s confused and struggles to adapt to change, they become fearful; as a result, they decide keep to themselves. What they need is for their loved ones to guide them and help them embrace life no matter how small the baby steps are.

17. They need your encouragement

This sounds obvious, but encouragement is not something that’s always built strong within people, especially after years of helping a loved one with dementia. It can be a huge boulder to carry, so make sure to reach out to those currently caring for someone with dementia.

The number of people with dementia is expected to increase to 75.6 million in 2030, so we must come to terms with it. Even though we can’t prevent dementia, we can still improve our memory. Keeping an active mind, staying away from medication with adverse side effects, not excessively drinking, a good sleep schedule, and maintaining a healthy diet are just a few ways to keep your memory sharp.

Moreover, stay open-minded and if you see someone acting strange, remember that an early diagnosis can help those with dementia tremendously by helping them prepare for the future.

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Published on May 18, 2021

How To Improve Listening Skills For Effective Workplace Communication

How To Improve Listening Skills For Effective Workplace Communication

We have two ears and one mouth for a reason—effective communication is dependent on using them in proportion, and this involves having good listening skills.

The workplace of the 21st century may not look the same as it did before COVID-19 spread throughout the world like wildfire, but that doesn’t mean you can relax your standards at work. If anything, Zoom meetings, conference calls, and the continuous time spent behind a screen have created a higher level of expectations for meeting etiquette and communication. And this goes further than simply muting your microphone during a meeting.

Effective workplace communication has been a topic of discussion for decades, yet, it is rarely addressed or implemented due to a lack of awareness and personal ownership by all parties.

Effective communication isn’t just about speaking clearly or finding the appropriate choice of words. It starts with intentional listening and being present. Here’s how to improve your listening skills for effective workplace communication.

Listen to Understand, Not to Speak

There are stark differences between listening and hearing. Listening involves intention, focused effort, and concentration, whereas hearing simply involves low-level awareness that someone else is speaking. Listening is a voluntary activity that allows one to be present and in the moment while hearing is passive and effortless.[1]

Which one would you prefer your colleagues to implement during your company-wide presentation? It’s a no-brainer.

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Listening can be one of the most powerful tools in your communication arsenal because one must listen to understand the message being told to them. As a result of this deeper understanding, communication can be streamlined because there is a higher level of comprehension that will facilitate practical follow-up questions, conversations, and problem-solving. And just because you heard something doesn’t mean you actually understood it.

We take this for granted daily, but that doesn’t mean we can use that as an excuse.

Your brain is constantly scanning your environment for threats, opportunities, and situations to advance your ability to promote your survival. And yet, while we are long past the days of worrying about being eaten by wildlife, the neurocircuitry responsible for these mechanisms is still hard-wired into our psychology and neural processing.

A classic example of this is the formation of memories. Case in point: where were you on June 3rd, 2014? For most of you reading this article, your mind will go completely blank, which isn’t necessarily bad.

The brain is far too efficient to retain every detail about every event that happens in your life, mainly because many events that occur aren’t always that important. The brain doesn’t—and shouldn’t—care what you ate for lunch three weeks ago or what color shirt you wore golfing last month. But for those of you who remember where you were on June 3rd, 2014, this date probably holds some sort of significance to you. Maybe it was a birthday or an anniversary. Perhaps it was the day your child was born. It could have even been a day where you lost someone special in your life.

Regardless of the circumstance, the brain is highly stimulated through emotion and engagement, which is why memories are usually stored in these situations. When the brain’s emotional centers become activated, the brain is far more likely to remember an event.[2] And this is also true when intention and focus are applied to listening to a conversation.

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Utilizing these hard-wired primitive pathways of survival to optimize your communication in the workplace is a no-brainer—literally and figuratively.

Intentional focus and concentrated efforts will pay off in the long run because you will retain more information and have an easier time recalling it down the road, making you look like a superstar in front of your colleagues and co-workers. Time to kiss those note-taking days away!

Effective Communication Isn’t Always Through Words

While we typically associate communication with words and verbal affirmations, communication can come in all shapes and forms. In the Zoom meeting era we live in, it has become far more challenging to utilize and understand these other forms of language. And this is because they are typically easier to see when we are sitting face to face with the person we speak to.[3]

Body language can play a significant role in how our words and communication are interpreted, especially when there is a disconnection involved.[4] When someone tells you one thing, yet their body language screams something completely different, it’s challenging to let that go. Our brain immediately starts to search for more information and inevitably prompts us to follow up with questions that will provide greater clarity to the situation at hand. And in all reality, not saying something might be just as important as actually saying something.

These commonly overlooked non-verbal communication choices can provide a plethora of information about the intentions, emotions, and motivations. We do this unconsciously, and it happens with every confrontation, conversation, and interaction we engage in. The magic lies in the utilization and active interpretation of these signals to improve your listening skills and your communication skills.

Our brains were designed for interpreting our world, which is why we are so good at recognizing subtle nuances and underlying disconnect within our casual encounters. So, when we begin to notice conflicting messages between verbal and non-verbal communication, our brain takes us down a path of troubleshooting.

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Which messages are consistent with this theme over time? Which statements aren’t aligning with what they’re really trying to tell me? How should I interpret their words and body language?

Suppose we want to break things down even further. In that case, one must understand that body language is usually a subconscious event, meaning that we rarely think about our body language. This happens because our brain’s primary focus is to string together words and phrases for verbal communication, which usually requires a higher level of processing. This doesn’t mean that body language will always tell the truth, but it does provide clues to help us weigh information, which can be pretty beneficial in the long run.

Actively interpreting body language can provide you with an edge in your communication skills. It can also be used as a tool to connect with the individual you are speaking to. This process is deeply ingrained into our human fabric and utilizes similar methods babies use while learning new skills from their parents’ traits during the early years of development.

Mirroring a person’s posture or stance can create a subtle bond, facilitating a sense of feeling like one another. This process is triggered via the activation of specific brain regions through the stimulation of specialized neurons called mirror neurons.[5] These particular neurons become activated while watching an individual engage in an activity or task, facilitating learning, queuing, and understanding. They also allow the person watching an action to become more efficient at physically executing the action, creating changes in the brain, and altering the overall structure of the brain to enhance output for that chosen activity.

Listening with intention can make you understand your colleague, and when paired together with mirroring body language, you can make your colleague feel like you two are alike. This simple trick can facilitate a greater bond of understanding and communication within all aspects of the conversation.

Eliminate All Distractions, Once and for All

As Jim Rohn says, “What is easy to do is also easy not to do.” And this is an underlying principle that will carry through in all aspects of communication. Distractions are a surefire way to ensure a lack of understanding or interpretation of a conversation, which in turn, will create inefficiencies and a poor foundation for communication.

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This should come as no surprise, especially in this day in age where people are constantly distracted by social media, text messaging, and endlessly checking their emails. We’re stuck in a cultural norm that has hijacked our love for the addictive dopamine rush and altered our ability to truly focus our efforts on the task at hand. And these distractions aren’t just distractions for the time they’re being used. They use up coveted brainpower and central processes that secondarily delay our ability to get back on track.

Gloria Mark, a researcher at UC Irvine, discovered that it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds for our brains to reach their peak state of focus after an interruption.[6] Yes, you read that correctly—distractions are costly, error-prone, and yield little to no benefit outside of a bump to the ego when receiving a new like on your social media profile.

Meetings should implement a no-phone policy, video conference calls should be set on their own browser with no other tabs open, and all updates, notifications, and email prompt should be immediately turned off, if possible, to eliminate all distractions during a meeting.

These are just a few examples of how we can optimize our environment to facilitate the highest levels of communication within the workplace.

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

Effective communication in the workplace doesn’t have to be challenging, but it does have to be intentional. Knowledge can only take us so far, but once again, knowing something is very different than putting it into action.

Just like riding a bike, the more often you do it, the easier it becomes. Master communicators are phenomenal listeners, which allows them to be effective communicators in the workplace and in life. If you genuinely want to own your communication, you must implement this information today and learn how to improve your listening skills.

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Choose your words carefully, listen intently, and most of all, be present in the moment—because that’s what master communicators do, and you can do it, too!

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Featured photo credit: Mailchimp via unsplash.com

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