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The Keys to Connection Three-­Part Series When Engaging with a Loved One or Client with Memory Impai

We hope you found Part One of IMC’s series The Keys to Connection beneficial. If you missed Part­-One to our three ­part series you can find it by clicking this link: Part-­One

You’ve followed the steps to setup the best interaction possible. Now it’s time to engage! Here are some of Inspired’s keys for connecting during conversation:

● Give opportunities for the sharing of wisdom and advice. ​Many people with dementia have lead very generative, successful lives, but no longer feel valued or heard. Asking a person what he or she “would do” vs. what he or she “did do” not only enables opinion-based conversation (much more successful than fact-­based), but breeds a sense of meaning and esteem (very important for all human beings at any stage of life!).

Pause. ​It can take a person with memory impairment up to thirty seconds to fully process your question or comment before answering you. Rushing him or her by asking another question too quickly is frustrating and will shut down communication. Practice timing your ability to remain silent in casual conversation (count: one Mississippi, two Mississippi, etc). It will create awareness and hone the pace of your conversation.

Offer choice.​ If a person with dementia is having a hard time answering an open-­ended question, it is okay to give two­-three possible choices as answers if word­-finding is difficult. Also, often times showing the choices while verbally asking can connect the verbal with the visual and elicit a response more easily.

● Have pictures, short video clips, or even better ­­ an iPad available to build context​. Using visual or auditory cues can often help an individual with memory impairment to connect with the person, place or thing you are discussing in the moment.