21 November 2018
Assisting People with Cognitive Impairment – By Interchange Australia Consultant, Wendy Hughes
Thankfully in our communities we are becoming more aware of the needs of people with dementia, both young and old. However, they still sometimes experience strange looks, reactions and comments when out and about. The recent Invictus Games opened many doors to our realisation that not all disabilities are physical or can be seen; many people are physically functional, but their cognitive function is damaged. What we need is better awareness of our behaviour and interaction when engaging with those in our community with dementia or cognitive issues.
When out in the community, try and use some of the strategies noted below. They make someone’s day a lot better:-
• Identify yourself as many times as needed and watch your body language ( it accounts for up to 55% of communication). You may need to use some hand gestures and facial expressions to make yourself understood, pointing or demonstrating can help. A warm smile and shared laughter can often communicate more than words.
• Minimise distractions (turn off your mobile)
• Be inclusive in the conversation – friendly but respectful
• Speak slowly and clearly, keeping sentences short and simple and use orienting names or labels whenever you can, such as ‘Your brother, Peter’
• Always allow plenty of time for what you have said to be understood (at least 30 seconds for the person to respond.)
• When discussing activities, provide choice but don’t overwhelm the person with too many options.
• Stay calm and relaxed, acknowledge your interaction with that person and focus on THEM.
At Interchange Australia our staff understand the needs of people with impaired cognitive issues and apply all of these communication strategies when interacting with clients.
For more information about the services Interchange Australia offers to people with impaired cognitive function, please call one of our friendly and experienced consultants on 1300 112 334.