We can make a difference in each moment with our loved one experiencing cognitive changes by understanding the changes in their abilities and coping in the areas of language, movement, recognition, and reasoning.
Knowing these changes, what can we do to set them up for successful interactions?
- Changing our mindset: Focus on remaining gifts vs. what they can’t do. Changing our expectations of them and the event
- See through their lens: Asking ourselves: Is this a fair expectation of them today vs. in the past? Do they understand my request? Are they confused or fearful? Is this going to make them feel good about themselves or embarrass them?
- Error on the side of too much support. I.e. Instead of saying “Dad you know who this is right?” whereby Dad feels foolish for not knowing their name, say, “Dad look whose here, your niece Brittany.”
- Watch for signs of overload. We can watch for signs of anxiety or isolation and quietly remove our loved one from the stressor without calling attention to them.
- Use positive communication strategies: approaching our loved one from the front, using eye contact, slowing down our pace of speech, using succinct short sentences, and allowing time for them to process information. Set up environment for them to be successful: one at a time conversations with a grandchild.
- Show vs. tell mindset: Use pictures or demonstration of activities to assure that our loved one understands what we are asking them to do.
Most of all: Smile often. Love abundantly. Enjoy the little moments