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  • Writer's pictureSenior Support Services

How to Talk to Someone with Dementia

Communication is such an important aspect of our lives. Knowing how to communicate best can help you and your loved one understand each other better.

1) Eye contact

o If your loved one is in a bed, a wheelchair or on the couch, make sure you get down to their level so that you are at their line of sight.

2) Limit any other distractions

o Ensure there is enough lighting in the room.

o Limit any background noises (TV, radio, ect).

o Aim for quiet and intimate interactions with fewer people.

3) Get their attention

o Call your loved one by name.

o Approach them gently from the front.

o Introduce yourself if required.

4) Speak slowly and clearly and repeat if needed

o Articulate your words.

o Allow a significant amount of time for your loved one to process what you’ve said.

o Emphasize the word that is the most important.

5) Use familiar vocabulary

o Use language that is familiar to your loved one.

6) Limit open-ended questions

o Try to create questions so that your loved one can answer “yes” or “no”.

o Or offer limited options to your question.

7) Pay close attention

o Observe how your loved one is responding to your words.

o Do they understand the information that is being said?

o What is their body language and facial expression telling you?

o What energy are they giving off?

8) One instruction at a time

o Break down information into simpler, smaller steps.

o Small tasks, rather than one big task is better.

9) Do not quiz

o Your loved one’s ability to make sense of things and use logic is affected by the disease.

o Quizzing may result in your loved one feeling anxious, uncomfortable, embarrassed and overwhelmed.

10) Avoid arguing

o Dementia often impairs your loved one’s ability to reason, therefore it is unfair to argue.

o It is often draining for both you and your loved one.

o It can create undesirable frustration and strong emotional reactions.

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