4 creative ways children can communicate with someone living with dementia
Today’s guest blog post comes from Melanie Valenti – an activity Coordinator within dementia care. You can find out more about the author or contact her via the author bio box at the foot of this post.
Children have a remarkable ability to engage and interact with people they know and love without judgements. If they feel safe, understood and accepted they can share and provide some magical moments. However, when a person the child knows begins to change either through their actions and language or by not remembering or behaving differently, it can begin to alter their relationship and create challenges. By using a creative and sometimes spontaneous approach, we can encourage and nurture relationships and communication between children and people living with dementia.
A calm, bright warm environment is always a good place to start, with plenty of space, a little planning, encouragement, support, and some gentle supervision.
Music and Songs
Music is a wonderful way for children to communicate with someone. Many people with dementia will retain the ability to recognise songs, lyrics, music, rhymes and poetry, even in advanced stages of the condition. Even when someone loses their ability to talk and make themselves understood, they may still be able to sing. You might want to try some of the following:
- Have some music softly playing, as this might encourage singing and movement!
- You could try a song from someone’s past, a nursery rhythm, or a Disney song.
- You could also include musical instruments.
This is a lovely visual communication with the aim of encouraging engagement by using images and pictures. This can be especially effective when you use meaningful images from the person’s life.
- You can use images from books, magazines, cards, or some homemade art!
- Being able to see and choose your own pictures is important, so having them displayed clearly will help.
- You could use themed pictures: Home, family, holidays, gardens, etc.
- The scrapbook can be made over time and become a meaningful memento of time spent together.
Shoe boxes are perfect for this idea as any treasures can go in a collecting box like sweets, wool, ribbons, toys, pine cones, or train tickets! Also, try using objects with different textures and shapes. This is a meaningful way children can communicate with someone living with dementia as it can encourage engagement and discovery.
- Try to include meaningful objects that can encourage a sense of sharing.
- Make objects available to be discovered and put into the box.
- The treasures inside the boxes can be sorted through many times over.
Drawing and making something can allow communication through gestures and create spontaneous moments between a child and someone living with dementia. This idea doesn’t have to produce perfect art, as it’s more about spending time together and creating meaningful moments.
- Begin by providing pens and paper.
- Depending on someone’s ability they can engage or watch and still be involved.
- They could make cards or decorations which can be displayed and admired.
Communication is about more than words…a smile, laughter, sharing and being together can speak volumes and can help to keep loving relationships alive.
If you're interested in finding out more about activities for people living with dementia then visit my blog using the link above.
Latest posts by Melanie Valenti (see all)
- 4 creative ways children can communicate with someone living with dementia - October 22, 2015