If the situation is negative, a caregiver should
say exactly the concern, and how he or she would
like it fixed. Those living with schizophrenia have
a difficult time processing feelings of others, so
this direct-talking skill is one a caregiver should
master. Itís especially important when the situation
could be dangerous, such as a medication need, or
also is personal, such as making the caregiver feel
scared during an upsetting episode.
Social withdrawal is also a top symptom of the
illness, and keeping the conversation light and
positive encourages friendship and connection.
Everyone wants to feel like they belong, and itís a
caregiverís responsibility to help their loved one
feel that, regardless of the situation. This can be
done by discussing, or doing things the person
enjoys. What are their hobbies? Think of activities
they find fun or help distract from the day-to-day
life with schizophrenia. While medical talk is
necessary, the friendship between caregiver and
loved one is too.
The old adage stands true for a person living
with schizophrenia: keep it simple.
Whether verbal or nonverbal, communication with
too many elements or expectations of response will
send a red flag to a loved one living with
schizophrenia. They also tend to have a theory that
they are above rational and normal logic. This can
be challenging for a caregiver to cope with.
Professionals recommend caregivers just not indulge
the notions, but donít disallow them either. Meet
the person where they are, and accept this. It may
not be a real concern to a caregiver, but to a loved
one with schizophrenia, their manifestations are
completely real. When trying to reason or make
sense, itís recommended caregivers use ďI feelĒ
statements rather than ďI thinkĒ ones.
With non-verbal communication, here are some
guidelines. First, stand close to a loved one, but
do not crowd their personal space. Maintain eye
contact and show interest in their ideas. This is
accomplished through posture and engaging facial
expressions. Last, speak calmly and clearly. Any
extra confusion may be too much for a loved one to
Itís easy for a person with schizophrenia to feel
very isolated, especially with a challenge of normal
communication. As a caregiver, a way to be a loved
oneís advocate is to not think of them as someone
with schizophrenia, but a person with an illness.
They are not the illness. Communication is important
in any relationship, but with a schizophrenic loved
one, some learned and applied skills will help the
relationship even more.