10 Tips for Nonverbal Communication
- Don’t Talk From Behind Them: Despite your best efforts you may sometimes forget this one, as described above.
- Make Eye Contact: This tip is related to the one above. If you’re standing behind the person you can’t make eye contact.
- Be at Their Level: If both you and they are standing that’s fine. But if they’re sitting on a chair it’s best if you kneel in front. This is especially important if they are in a wheelchair. Otherwise they will have to look up at you and they may feel you’re towering over them.
- Use Therapeutic Touch: People with Alzheimer’s may yearn to be touched, but you should ask for permission first and tell the person what you are going to do. Otherwise they may become alarmed.
- Don’t Make Sudden Movements: This, too, may scare the person.
- Offer to Shake Hands Every Time You Visit: They probably won’t remember you did it the last time. Put your hand out; they may reach for yours. If not let it go. This tip is related to therapeutic touch.
- Use Laughter. Alzheimer’s is a deadly serious disease. Nonetheless, sometimes laughter is the best medicine. Be sure to have some light-hearted stories to tell the person at each visit. I have found they may counter by telling you a funny story. Just be sure you’re laughing with the person, not at them.
- Use Visual Cues: Point, touch or hand them the item you want them to use. For example, if you want them to drink some water, point to it or put a full glass near them and/or then pick it up and hand it to them.
- Palms up: Never sit with your arms crossed. This tends to convey anger just as it does when interacting with a person who does not have dementia. If you have your palms up it will probably be interpreted by the person as “I’m receptive to you” or “Take my hand” or “I like you.”
- Smile a Lot: This is probably the most important guideline of all. You will want to do this at any time (except if the conversation is more serious), but particularly when you’re telling the person something pleasant or humorous and when the person is telling you something of a like nature.
Tags: Alzheimer's, Caregiver, Caregiver Stress, Caregiving, communication, dementia, memory loss, nonverbal communication, tips