Communicating with someone who experiences a brain disorder can be challenging. Here are six tips:
1. Use short, clear, and direct sentences. Long, involved explanations are difficult for people with mental illness to handle. They will tune you out.
2. Keep the content of communications simple. Cover only one topic at a time. Give only one direction at a time.
3. Do what you can to keep the “stimulation level” as low as possible. A loud voice, an insistent manner, making accusations and criticisms are painfully defeating for anyone who suffers from a brain disorder.
4. If your relative appears withdrawn and uncommunicative, back off for a while.
5. Assume that some of what you say to your ill relative will “fall through the cracks.” Be patient. You might have to repeat instructions and directions.
6. Be pleasant, but firm. If you do not “waffle” or undermine what you are expressing, your loved one will not as readily misinterpret it. Communications are our “boundaries” in dealing with others. Make sure your boundaries are clear.
From the National Alliance on Mental Illness Family to Family Education course.