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Appleton Police Department share tips on communicating with a person with Dementia

There's now a hotline specifically for caregivers
Posted at 12:02 PM, Nov 30, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-30 13:02:49-05

APPLETON (NBC 26 ) -- In honor of National Alzheimer's Awareness Month, the Appleton Police Department wraps up November by sharing tips on communicating with a person with Dementia.

The Department shares these tips for anyone who is communicating with a person with Dementia. They say these good communication skills will make caregiving less stressful, improve relationships with our loved ones, and enhance our ability to handle their challenging behavior.

The Department says to have a positive attitude when talking with them. This is because a person with dementia many have an increased sensitivity to other people's emotions and feelings, which they then tend to mirror. An example given is if they sense others are tense and uptight, they will feel the same way.

Another tip they give is before talking to a person with Dementia, make sure you have their attention. This includes eye contact and being on the same level as them if they are seated. Make sure to address them by name and use nonverbal cues to keep them focused. When talking with them try to limit outside noise and distraction.

Speak slowly, articulate well, and use simple words with short sentences. According to the Department, you may need to repeat your message or question but be patient in waiting for their reply. Try to listen for the meaning and feelings behind their answers.

Be respectful of their feelings, says the Department, speak to them like an adult and do not talk down to them. Never ridicule what they say or treat them as if they were a child. If they say something that seems out of context, acknowledge their answer to show you are paying attention.

They say communication is partially about talking, but also includes body language, physical contact, and tone of voice. When somebody has a difficulty understanding words something as simple as a hug, touch of hands, and friendly voice will likely help to reassure them.

Finally, when all else fails: smile. The Department says that instead of getting frustration with the person with Dementia, just smile. They may do something that seems perfectly normal to them and foolish to you, so smiling will take the edge off any situation.

Appleton Police say they are always here to help connect community members with resources. If you know someone who is struggling, reach out to get help.

The Appleton Police Department's non-emergency number is (920) 832-5500.