As a carer/companion is it ok to not talk for long periods?

Hi, i’m new to caring and new to the forum. I’m looking afer a family friend who has been brought out of a care home. She is 89 and has dementia. We are together most days for about half a day and usually go out in the car and for a very short walk. This is enjoyable for both of us and although we don’t talk much it’s obviousl that this gives her great pleasure. My problem is how to behave when we are at home when she just sits and stares. She was never one for small talk and is not toughy feely, and obviuosly conversation is limted to tea/coffee, sometimes going through old photos etc but in between there are long periods of time with nothing … no talking … no communicaiton … she seems content. I do my jigsaw puzzle in the living room and she just sits and stares - Is this normal? Accpetable? I feel guilty for not doing anything and of course they are paying me. Any advice would be apprecaited.

I would call this companiable silence. I have had some grim operations, and found the post op days easier if I really concentrated on happy past experiences, with my eyes closed, but not asleep. I missed out sometimes as staff thought I was! I would like to think that your carer was also lost in her thoughts and memories, especially if her body language is relaxed. There is nothing worse than someone rabbiting on about nothing!!!

Hi Emma and welcome. I think you’re giving your caree an enjoyable, interesting day. When you return from the walk she maybe thinking about all the things she saw and heard during the walk such as the fresh air on her face, seeing the green fields and trees and hearing the birds chirping etc. So she may need a bit of ‘quiet’ time just to sit and think about her outing.
When there are days when you can’t take her out such as when it’s raining would she be able to play a simple card game with you such as ‘Snap’? Or colouring books or have you tried putting some songs on and singing together?
Hope this helps,

thanks for your replies and words of support, it means a lot. She is/was a very self-contained person who’s never joined in with things. The family told me this but I have tried simple cooking and drawing and she quickly gets anxious as I can tell she’s not understanding or is confused so have now stopped. I do play classical and jazz music and ask her if it’s ok and she always says yes but never shows any response to it. I also tried a crossword and getting her to help me with my jigsaw but anything which takes her out of her comfort zone seems to upset her. I sing … but she never joins in. I am a very sociable, active person so do struggle with this lack of ability to do stuff. We do the washing up together and she’s happy to help with that, seems to lift her. I guess she knows what to do? What do other carers/companions do when the person they are looking after doesn’t want to do anything. Go on their phones? Watch TV? I am feeling quilty for getting paid!

This is really a forum for unpaid carers, rather than paid carers.

When I can’t manage things for myself any more, I’d want a carer like you.
Mothers don’t talk endlessly to their children, they have periods of quiet, and periods of chatter.
Don’t feel guilty about being paid, you are there to be a companion, as long as you don’t put your needs before her, you’re doing just fine.
Do you knit? Your client might like you to knit, as it’s probably something her mum did when she was little.

When my husband was on the nursing home, he was quiet very often. Happy watching TV with me. Had a little chat sometimes. Nice memories mostly.
But the ladies, however deep into dementia likes having nails done, or someone making there hair look nice, having hand cream, things like that. Are you allowed to do things like that? Maybe worth a try.

I’m sorry, I didn’t realise this forum was for unpaid carers but I really do appreciate the help you’ve given me. I feel so much better and will try and relax. I may try the nails, creams and I don’t knit but I do draw so will give that a go.

Thanks again,

If I needed a carer I would also want someone just like you, Emma.