Caring For A Loved One Who Can No Longer Speak

communication is connection

Communicating without Speaking

You may wonder how difficult it may be to understand an individual whom you cannot speak with.  Most of the time, the one who cannot speak does not know how to relay their wants and needs to you either.  They can become frustrated because communicating was once much easier.  Many of us are caring for aging loved ones who can no longer communicate with us.  Seniors may lose their ability to talk, known as aphasia, which can occur from stroke, Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease or a brain injury.  However, even minor difficulties in speech can be a challenge for both the caregiver and caretaker.

When losing the ability to speak, our loved ones begin to feel isolated and misunderstood, which many times can lead to anger, depression and mood swings.  It is critical for caregivers and family members to be able to communicate with seniors in any way possible.  Not just for the collective understanding, but mainly for the feeling of comfort.  This process is incredibly scary for seniors.  Always keep that in mind!

Using the sense of touch

It has been far known that the sense of touch is one of the last to be impaired by aging.  The feeling of comfort and safety is very consoling to the ones who can no longer speak like they used to.  Beginning to rely on touch to communicate will require extra attention to their non-verbal cues.  Pay attention to their facial expressions and their hand gestures.  These two actions will express a lot on how your loved one is feeling and if anything may be bothering them.

One common problem to avoid is expressing any negative emotions or gestures towards your loved one.  We completely understand that caregiving is a very difficult and demanding task for anyone to take on.  If you have children, this may take you back to when they were being a toddler.  Even though getting upset is a natural reaction to the situation, it only makes things worse.  Try to remain calm.  The more time the both of you spend together, the more you will be able to understand one another.

hearing without speaking

Even though a one-sided conversation may seem like you are talking at the person instead of with the person, this is still beneficial for your loved ones.  Continue to fill them in on what is going on in their life and the families.  Go over what your day is going to look like and any appointments that are scheduled.  Continue to ask them questions.  Look for cues or indications into what they may be feeling inside.  According to a study done by the National Alzheimers Resource Center, many seniors can continue to hear and comprehend their native language far after they become unable to speak.  You may be amazed on just how much they can still understand.

Remember, always be patient.

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