Do Seniors with Dementia Understand What They’re Told?

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Talking to someone with dementia can sometimes be confusing for caregivers. On some days, your senior loved one may seem to understand everything you say. At other times, your loved one may seem completely out of touch, and you may worry about whether you’re meeting his or her needs. These concerns are common among caregivers, and it’s a good sign you care enough to want to know how much your loved one understands. Dementia affects everyone differently, but you can gain some insight into your loved one’s level of understanding by recognizing what happens during each stage. 


How Dementia Symptoms Change with Each Stage

During the earliest stages of dementia, symptoms may be limited to occasional memory lapses. However, seniors’ level of understanding can fluctuate depending on factors such as how tired they are and if they’re living with other health issues. 

The middle to later stages of dementia bring more episodes of confusion, and you may eventually begin to notice your loved one is having difficulty understanding you more often. 

By the final stage of dementia, your loved one may have rare episodes of lucidity or none at all. Either way, you still have many options for enhancing communication. 

If your senior loved one has been diagnosed with a serious condition and needs help with tasks like meal prep, transportation, bathing, and grooming, reach out to Assisting Hands Home Care, a leading provider of home care Naples families can trust. We also offer comprehensive care for seniors with dementia, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s.


Common Dementia-Related Communication Challenges

Cognitive changes can make it difficult to comprehend oral language. This is sometimes due to forgetting vocabulary words, or your loved one may be unable to concentrate on what you say long enough to understand long, complicated sentences. 

At times, your loved one may not understand you because he or she is confused about the current time and place. Your loved one may understand but be unable to show it. Never underestimate what your loved one may comprehend, even if he or she is nonverbal. 

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 in-home care as well as comprehensive Alzheimer’s, dementia, stroke, and Parkinson’s care.


Tips to Increase Understanding

People with dementia are more likely to understand you when you talk to them in simple sentences using basic words. Your loved one may also need you to make accommodations for other health challenges that affect his or her understanding. You may need to help your loved one put in hearing aids or eliminate noise in the background. 

If your loved one doesn’t understand something, try rephrasing it. You can also use visual aids that allow your loved one to point to images to communicate with you. 


How to Provide Compassionate Care during Late-Stage Dementia

Studies have shown seniors can still understand many things in even the final stages of dementia. Although your loved one might not verbally respond to your speech, he or she may still be listening. Continue talking to your loved one with respect and compassion. 

You should also avoid talking about negative things while around your loved one, even if he or she doesn’t seem to be coherent. Finally, remember gentle touches such as hugs are often comforting to seniors who seem to have stopped fully understanding verbal speech.

Even when families have the best intentions, caring for a senior loved one with dementia can be challenging. Fortunately, Assisting Hands Home Care is here to help. We are a leading provider of dementia care. Naples families can take advantage of our flexible and customizable care plans, and our caregivers always stay up to date on the latest developments in senior care. If you need professional care for your loved one, reach out to one of our Care Managers today.