5 Tips for Communicating with Somebody with Dementia

5 Tips for Communicating with Somebody with Dementia

Communicating with somebody who is living with a form of dementia such as Alzheimer’s disease can sometimes be challenging. This is because difficulty expressing and understanding ideas is often one of the main symptoms of dementia alongside memory loss. If you are caring for somebody who has dementia, either as a member of their family or in a professional setting, there are lots of thing that you can do when communicating to make things easier on both of you. Some of the best tips for communicating effectively with somebody with dementia include:

Avoid Infantilizing Them

Speaking down to the person or treating them like they are an infant is not going to help when you are communicating with somebody who has dementia. Regardless of how much the person might be struggling with understanding, it’s important to remember at all times that they are still an adult. Speak in a normal, respectful tone of voice and treat them the same way that you would want to be treated. 

Avoid Using Figures of Speech or Slang

If you are caring for or visiting a person with dementia who is in a memory care facility Olivette, then speaking using words and phrases that are simple and easy to understand is the way forward. As dementia progresses, the person might struggle to understand things like slang or figures of speech, and may take them literally, which causes confusion. 

Limit Questions

Too many questions can be confusing and irritating for somebody with dementia. Whether you are visiting or caring for this person, avoid asking too many questions to them that might be difficult for them to answer. Instead, encourage them to speak to you, or find a way to get them involved in the conversation without leading to them feeling like they are being interrogated. 

Speak to Them Directly

A common mistake that some people make is communicating mainly with family members or caregivers about the person, rather than to them directly. If you have a question, it’s best to always ask the person first and give them a chance to answer for themselves before you turn to others. Chances are that they might understand more than you are giving them credit for. 

Make Eye Contact and Smile

Somebody with dementia might need more reassurance than others, especially when it comes to the non-verbal communication that you use. Smiling and making eye contact with anybody can help to put them at more ease, and this is also true for somebody with dementia. A genuine smile can be very reassuring, letting them know that you are happy to be there with them. This can be very helpful when it comes to reducing challenging behaviors and encouraging the person to communicate better with you. 

When caring for or even visiting somebody with dementia, chances are that you will have to change how you communicate with them, even if this is somebody you have known a long time. Dementia can lead to issues with communication, so it’s important to be clear and patient.


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