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5 Tips for Communicating with a Person with Dementia

Author: Leanna Aitken | Posted: 29th December 2016 | Category: General News, New Services


It’s not easy to communicate with a person with dementia—but we can learn. Improving your communication skills will help make caregiving less stressful and will likely improve the quality of your relationship with your loved one.

Good communication skills will also improve your ability to handle the difficult behavior you may encounter as you care for a person with a dementing illness.

1. Set a positive mood for interaction.

Your attitude and body language communicate your feelings and thoughts stronger than your words. Set a positive mood by speaking to your loved one in a pleasant and respectful manner. Use facial expressions, the tone of voice and physical touch to help convey your message and show your feelings of affection.

2. Ensure you have the person’s attention.

Limit distractions and noise—turn off the radio or TV, close the curtains or shut the door, or move to quieter surroundings. Before speaking, make sure you have her attention; address her by name, identify yourself by name and relation, and use nonverbal cues and touch to help keep her focused. If she is seated, get down to her level and maintain eye contact.

3. State your message clearly and simply.

Use simple words and sentences. Speak slowly, distinctly and in a reassuring tone. Refrain from raising your voice higher or louder; instead, pitch your voice lower. If she doesn’t understand the first time, use the same wording to repeat your message or question. If she still doesn’t understand, wait a few minutes and rephrase the question. Use the names of people and places instead of pronouns (he, she, they) or abbreviations.

4. Ask basic, answerable questions.

Ask one question at a time; those with yes or no answers work best. Refrain from asking open-ended questions or giving too many choices. For example, ask, “Would you like to wear your white shirt or your blue shirt?” Better still, show her the choices—visual prompts and cues also help clarify your question and can guide her response.

5. Listen with your ears, eyes and heart.

Be patient in waiting for your loved one’s reply. If she is struggling for an answer, it’s okay to suggest words. Watch for nonverbal cues and body language, and respond appropriately. Always strive to listen for the meaning and feelings that underlie the words.

If you’re looking for flexible work as a healthcare professional, or to hire care staff contact Educare here.

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