Mental and Physical Health

Explain how physical and mental health factors have to be considered when communicating with individuals with dementia. Describe how to support different communication abilities of an individual with   dementia who has a sensory impairment.

Dementia is a progressive disease that affects the function of the brain, causing cognitive impairment among other mental functions. This brings with it a whole host of mental symptoms which affect the way people communicate. There are however, many physical impairments people with dementia have, due to various reasons such as old age and individual illnesses. All these factors greatly diminish people's ability to communicate as they loose their natural skills. The link between mental and physical health is undeniable. Physical health is in many ways dependent upon their mental health and vice versa. Communication can be hindered if these health aspects are not properly considered, leading to improper treatment of affected people.

Communication is often assumed to be limited mainly to speech but many people overlook body language as a vital form of communication. In fact many scientists agree that nonverbal communication is our main form of communication as humans. This is one of the reasons why mental health and physical health factors have to be considered when communicating with dementia-affected individuals. Due to dementia, people’s ability to speak is affected by the deterioration of the brain. Their words loose the same meanings in some cases, which they may have had prior to dementia.

People with dementia are still very much trying to communicate in their day-to-day life like anyone would. Their form of communication however does not always come out in the way they wish. They may be judged wrongly as being awkward when in fact their mind is not working in the conventional way that we know. Staff would then need to be trained to recognise patterns and understand how to engage with individuals to get a...