Communicating with Long Distance Family Members
by JoAnn Westbrook, N.H.A.,
PAC Product Development Lead and Certified Independent Trainer
As an Administrator in Nursing Homes, Assisted Living, and Memory Care, I have had many wonderful opportunities to work directly with family members who are struggling with the changes they see with their loved ones. Communication is such a key component to keeping an open dialogue. However, when dementia becomes part of the picture, communication can become more complex, especially when family members are far away and not visiting on a regular basis.
For the care partner at home, life can be overwhelming and stressful. What used to be a normal day filled with regular routines, now becomes more complex for the care partner.
The usual phone call to distant family members is filled with concerns, not to mention daily changes of their loved one living with dementia.
However, the conversation from distant family members with their loved one living with dementia, usually consists of a short conversation with yes/no answers and they seem to be doing just fine.
When family members drop in for a short visit, they often do not see the problems that have been described to them over the phone.
This can also happen when you take your loved one living with dementia to the doctor for that 5-10 minute check-up.
The person living with dementia can appear perfectly normal. As soon as they see an authority figure, their chemistry kicks into high gear, so the doctor seems to think they are doing just fine.
It takes time to really see the big picture. Communicating with family members requires learning new skills and ways to communicate that brings us together rather than pulling us apart.
Take a moment to watch Improving Communications in Dementia Care with Teepa Snow and Linn Possell below:
To learn more about improving communication skills with dementia please check out our DVDs or Streaming Versions
I am the Product Development Lead for PAC. I have a degree in Gerontology and am licensed as a Nursing Home Administrator, a Certified Assisted Living Administrator, and a Certified Independent Trainer with PAC. I created an Education Institute in a Long-term Care Community working directly with Teepa Snow producing DVDs and resources for eleven years. I also published an Elder Care Book in 2000. I joined the PAC team in 2019 and I am looking forward to creating new products to promote PAC.