Inaccurate communication creates a lot of misunderstandings in many caregiving circumstances. I would say something to my mother-in-law, she would reply (I thought appropriately), and then later it would be, “I didn’t say that.” I couldn’t get a grasp on the reason: Was she not listening? Was she not hearing? Was it the beginning stages of dementia?
I suggested that she reflect back to me with her responses. For example, when asked, “Would you like a cup of tea?” that she respond, “ Yes, I would like a cup of tea.” instead of just “Yes.” Not a simple skill for an 89-year-old to adopt.
When I took her to a friend’s birthday party at a restaurant, people took turns standing and making lovely comments about the birthday girl. After we returned home, MIL admitted for the first time that she could not hear what anyone was saying, and that maybe she did need hearing aids. (she disliked all symbols of “getting old.”) Unfortunately, the adjustment was difficult, and although we did not give up on them, the aids never really helped much.
Not hearing accurately is very frustrating for everyone in the caregiving situation. The communication strategies discussed in the article Joy Johnson shared in The Memories Project are applicable well-beyond the scope of dementia.