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How to Communicate with a Senior Who Has Parkinson’s

By Dian Brannen, 9:00 am on

Parkinson’s disease can have a significant impact on a senior’s ability to communicate. It tends to take longer for seniors with PD to process information and they need more time to frame their responses. In order to avoid frustration and ensure seniors with PD are able to effectively express their needs and concerns, family members, friends, and professional in-home caregivers will need to alter the way in which they speak and listen. Approaching conversations with patience and a clear understanding of the senior’s needs can have a very positive impact on communication outcomes.

Speak Face-to-Face

Gone are the days when you can hold a conversation with your loved one with your back turned and while tackling other tasks. You will be able to get a far more accurate understanding of what your family member is trying to say by sitting face-to-face and making eye contact. This will allow you to better discern the meaning of his or her statements through hand gestures and facial expressions when the available words will not suffice.

Keep Questions and Comments Basic

Leading providers of Parkinson’s care in the Lehigh Valley recommend phrasing your statements in a very direct and straightforward fashion. It takes a bit more time for people with PD to process what others are saying. When you say things or ask questions that are both complicated and lengthy, the conversation will become far less fluid and may even create frustration for your loved one.

Slow Down

Avoid talking too fast. Even when your words and sentences are simple, saying things too quickly can create confusion. Pause between each sentence so that your loved one has time to fully process each new idea.

Limit Outside Noise

Make sure your senior family member has ample opportunity to focus on the conversation. Turn down the television or any loud music that is playing and ask noisy children to leave the room. If the environment is calm, rather than chaotic, processing what you have to say and formulating his or her responses will be much easier for your loved one to do.

If your loved one’s care needs are becoming more than you can handle on your own, reach out to Home Care Assistance of the Lehigh Valley. Our highly trained and compassionate caregivers can provide your loved one the support he or she needs while giving you time for yourself. To learn about our customized care plans, call 484-350-3874 and speak with a friendly Care Manager today.