In the final stages of Alzheimer’s, the brain has sustained enough damage that many common actions and behaviors are no longer possible. One of the most noticeable functions your senior loved one may lose is the ability to speak. Seniors who stop talking still have needs they may be unable to express. These five strategies can help you continue to care for a nonverbal senior while providing the respect he or she deserves.
1. Step Up the Level of Care
A senior who is unable to speak is also not capable of telling you when something is wrong. Your loved one might be hungry or have soiled clothing with no way to tell anyone. Seniors who are nonverbal are also at greater risk for neglect or abuse, which means you need to alter your loved one’s care plan to include additional safeguards. Adding a professional caregiver to your team allows you to make sure your loved one has constant supervision.
A professional caregiver with training and experience in Alzheimer’s care can be a wonderful source of support for seniors and their families. If your senior loved one has been diagnosed with a serious condition and needs help with tasks like meal prep, transportation, bathing, and grooming, reach out to Home Care Assistance, a leading provider of homecare services families can trust. We also offer comprehensive care for seniors with dementia, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s.
2. Establish Face-to-Face Connections
Your loved one might not always understand what you say, but he or she will be more likely to comprehend when he or she can see your face. Eye contact is a powerful way to build a connection, and seniors with Alzheimer’s respond better during face-to-face communication. Try to get your loved one’s attention by tapping his or her shoulder or resting your hand on his or her arm. You can also say your loved one’s name to get him or her to look toward you.
3. Watch Your Loved One’s Body Language
Maintaining face-to-face communication makes it easier to pick up on nonverbal cues. Your loved one might not be able to say he or she is in pain but may communicate it by clenching his or her fist or squeezing his or her eyes shut tight. Get to know your loved one’s normal facial expressions and general demeanor so you can tell when something has changed.
Caring for a senior loved one can be challenging for families who don’t have expertise or professional training in home care, but this challenge doesn’t have to be faced alone. Family caregivers can turn to Coral Gables Home Care Assistance for the help they need. We provide high-quality live-in and respite care as well as comprehensive Alzheimer’s, dementia, stroke, and Parkinson’s care.
4. Experiment with Communication Aids
Your loved one might be able to communicate nonverbally with special tools. For instance, he or she might be able to point at a picture to tell you if he or she wants to have cereal or eggs for breakfast. Those familiar smiley face pain charts are also useful for helping seniors convey how they’re feeling. If your loved one doesn’t respond well to visual aids, try using auditory ones. Seniors can sometimes use special apps to press buttons with images that represent what they want to say.
5. Continue to Speak to Your Loved One Normally
The most important thing you can do is continue to talk to your loved one. It might be difficult at times to speak to your loved one and receive no feedback, but you never know when he or she might be able to respond. Seniors who cannot talk can still actively hear and understand some of what you say, so remember to talk with respect for your loved one’s intelligence.
Recovering from a stroke, managing the symptoms of Alzheimer’s, and a variety of other health-related situations can make it difficult for a senior to continue living at home without someone there to help. Coral Gables, FL, live-in care professionals are trained to help seniors who need 24/7 assistance. With the help of a live-in caregiver, your elderly loved one can maintain a higher quality of life while aging in place. Call Home Care Assistance today at 1 (305) 964-5636 to discuss how we can give you the peace of mind that comes from knowing your loved one is being cared for with professionalism and compassion.