6 Tips for Helping a Senior with Parkinson’s Communicate

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If you provide care for a senior loved one with Parkinson’s, you’ve probably noticed the disease affects the way he or she communicates. This doesn’t mean you avoid talking. It just means you need to find new ways to speak to each other and understand one another. Here are six strategies you can use to better communicate with your loved one with Parkinson’s disease (PD). 

1. Sit Face-to-Face

Sitting face-to-face helps you understand gestures and facial expressions your loved one uses to communicate messages nonverbally, and it can add to your overall understanding. 

Caring for senior loved ones 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 Assisting Hands Home Care for the help they need. We provide high-quality respite care as well as comprehensive Alzheimer’s, dementia, stroke, and Parkinson’s care.

2. Stick to Basic Questions & Speak Slowly

Seniors with PD take time to process what’s being said. Asking lengthy, complicated questions won’t get you a quick answer or allow for a smooth conversation. Because it takes time for a senior with PD to comprehend what’s being said, make sure family members and caregivers speak slowly and clearly. 

3. Be Patient

As Parkinson’s progresses, changes in memory skills may make it difficult for your loved one to remember certain words. Seniors with Parkinson’s often have a sense of what they want to say but lack the tools to find the correct words. Because of these difficulties, it may be helpful to give your loved one plenty of time to formulate ideas during conversations so he or she isn’t left out.

Families who find it difficult to care for their aging loved ones without assistance can benefit greatly from professional senior home care. Arlington, VA, family caregivers who need a break from their caregiving duties can turn to Assisting Hands Home Care. Our caregivers can encourage your loved one to eat well, exercise regularly, get plenty of mental and social stimulation, and focus on other lifestyle factors that promote longevity.

4. Ask for Clarification

In addition to the mental hurdles to communication that come with Parkinson’s, speaking becomes more physically difficult as well. The disease can cause people’s voices to become quieter and develop a breathy, hoarse tone. Many seniors with Parkinson’s also speak more slowly than they did before developing the disease, while some actually begin to speak more quickly as the disease progresses, causing them to stumble over their words and stutter. Your loved one most likely speaks slowly, and the words might not be precise due to pronunciation problems. Don’t hesitate to ask for clarification when this happens to avoid miscommunication. 

5. Be Creative

Creativity can go a long way toward aiding communication. Come up with photos that show several common items your loved one can point to, and learn to use gestures. Nonverbal communication is always best when it comes to making communication easier. 

6. Minimize Distractions

Things in the background can be easily distracting. These can include the television, music, and movements. You’ll need to find a way to minimize these distractions to avoid loss of concentration, which can happen easily for seniors with PD. 

In addition, trying to walk or do other activities while talking can exacerbate the problems with speech that can accompany Parkinson’s. Speech can become more difficult to understand, especially if your loved one is attempting to form complex sentences. Alternatively, speech can remain unimpaired while mobility decreases because focusing on talking may make it harder to maintain balance. 

When seniors develop Parkinson’s disease, their families aren’t always able to provide the care they need and deserve. One of the most challenging tasks of helping an elderly relative age in place safely and comfortably is researching agencies that provide elderly home care. Arlington families can turn to Assisting Hands Home Care for reliable, high-quality in-home care for aging adults. We offer compassionate care for seniors who require extensive assistance, and we also offer respite care for family caregivers who need a break from their caregiving duties. To talk to one of our friendly Care Managers and create a customized senior care plan, call us at (703) 988-1800.