By Kate Hunger
A series of multidisciplinary workshops at UT Health San Antonio trains caregivers of people with dementia on a range of skills, including how to communicate with their loved ones.
Speech and communication comprise one area covered in the free, monthly caregiver skills workshops open to the public and coordinated by the UT Health San Antonio School of Nursing, said Rocío Norman, Ph.D., CCC-SLP, Speech-Language Pathology Assistant Professor. Other topics covered in the workshops include occupational therapy, nursing care, nutrition management, dental hygiene, audiology, physical therapy, difficult behaviors, and urology/bowel/bladder.
Helping caregivers improve their communication skills was the focus of the presentation second-year speech-language pathology student Alisa Borrego gave at the workshop on Feb. 28. Borrego has presented at previous caregiver workshops and shares actionable steps with caregivers.
“Give them time to respond to questions,” Borrego said of one piece of advice she offers, explaining to caregivers that their loved ones may need extra time to process what they are being asked.
Similarly, Borrego suggests speaking in shorter sentences and providing specific choices when asking loved ones a question, which allows them to respond with the words provided. Yes or no questions are also helpful, Borrego said.
Caregivers who attended the session also learned strategies for communicating throughout the different stages of communication breakdown their loved ones may experience.
A native of San Antonio, Borrego hopes to work locally with adults with dementia, swallowing disorders or recovering from a stroke.
“I have always wanted to find ways to give back,” she said.
Visit https://utcaregivers.org for more information and to register for workshops and other events.