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Tips for communicating with a person with Dementia

As Dementia progresses, the ability to process information and effectively communicate may deteriorate over time. It is important to remember that dementia, and the various types of dementia, presents differently in each person. Some noticeable challenges include difficulty remembering events, processing new information, finding words, following directions, becoming easily distracted, difficulty making decisions, or inability to read social cues. 

While it may often be difficult for the person affected by dementia to properly express themselves, they often still experience feelings and emotions. How you say something means everything! 

  • Position yourself in a good place – one that is quiet and free of distractions
  • Get the person’s full attention before starting a conversation
  • Position yourself where the person can clearly see you and make sure you are at the same eye level
  • Be open and relaxed with your body language
  • Show empathy, patience, and understanding
  • Do not rush the conversation
  • Be aware of the time of day – are they typically best in the morning or evening
  • Speak clearly and at a slower pace – allow for pauses
  • Be respectful and treat them with dignity
  • Stick to one idea or thought at a time
  • Rephrase or use visuals instead of repeating yourself
  • Listen carefully and pay attention to body language
  • Avoid correcting or criticizing the person with dementia
  • Allow them to express their feelings – do not discount their worries

If all else fails and you find yourself frustrated, remember that a loved one with dementia can still understand touch, laughter, facial expressions and your presence in general. Silent but present makes an impact.  

Feel like you need additional guidance or individualized support?

Our team of Certified Senior Advisors® and Certified Dementia Practitioners® has helped hundreds of older adults and their families. For more information or to schedule a free consultation, call 617-227-1600 or email info@dovetailcompanies.com.

Dovetail Companies provides one point of contact for all services seniors may need when transitioning from their longtime home, minimizing stress and providing peace of mind to focus on the transition rather than the logistics. Dovetail Companies is the parent company to three subsidiary companies; Dovetail Support Services, Dovetail Financial and Dovetail Real Estate Group. For more information visit www.dovetailcompanies.com or call 617-227-1600.