You have a loved one with dementia or perhaps you are their caregiver. Communicating with seniors who have dementia may be difficult and heartbreaking.
There are several things to keep in mind when speaking to someone who has dementia
- Speak clearly and in your normal tone of voice. The person with dementia is not a baby or less intelligent. They have a disease.
- Listen to what they say to you. It’s alright to tell them you don’t understand. Sometimes, by repeating what they have said, the dementia patient can make themselves more clearly understood.
- Talk about one thing at a time. Since the person with dementia may have trouble connecting one thought to another, keep your conversation simple and your sentences short. Don’t use “he”, “she” or “they”, use people’s names.
- Have your conversation in an area where you won’t be interrupted by noise or other people. Find a quiet place that is familiar to the patient.
- Smile when you’re speaking and maintain eye contact. It makes everyone more comfortable.
- Don’t get upset if your loved one is having a bad day. There will be days when they understand and recognize others. There will also be days when they don’t.
- If your loved one becomes upset, change the subject or move to another area. This will break their focus and change the mood.
- People with dementia often feel confused or anxious. They may make mistakes in their memory of events. Don’t contradict them or tell them they are wrong.
Seniors who have dementia need support and reassurance. They remember the far off past much better than the recent past. Dementia patients often have a great sense of humor. Speaking together of long ago days quite often makes them happy.
For more information on communicating with seniors who have dementia, click here.