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How to Communicate with Someone who has Dementia

Communicating With Someone With Dementia

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Communicating With and Understanding Someone with Dementia
Communication can be a challenge for families living with someone with dementia. The disease
affects the person’s ability to think, remember, and communicate. It can be difficult for
caregivers to know how to talk to their loved one or how to encourage them to share their
thoughts. Fortunately, there are ways that families can connect and communicate with someone
living with dementia.

Encouraging Communication
Encouraging a person with dementia to communicate is essential for helping them stay
connected and engaged in day-to-day activities. One way of doing this is by keeping
conversations simple but meaningful. Ask questions that require only yes or no answers until the
conversation starts flowing more naturally. Don’t be afraid of pauses either—give them time to
process what you have asked before continuing the conversation. Remember that it’s ok if they
don’t always understand everything you say—you can acknowledge their confusion without
making them feel bad about it.

Using body language and physical contact can also help foster a sense of connection between
you and your loved one. According to the Alzheimers Society “Non-verbal communication is
communicating without the use of spoken words. You could use gestures, facial expressions and
body language to communicate with the person you care for. These may become some of the
main ways a person with dementia communicates as their condition progresses.”

Touching their hand or shoulder gently while speaking can convey a level of comfort and
understanding that words alone cannot provide. When speaking, try using facial expressions such
as smiling or nodding when appropriate—this will let your loved one know that you are actively
listening and engaging in the conversation.

Listening to & Understanding Your Loved One

It’s important for caregivers not just to talk but also listen carefully when communicating with
someone who has dementia. Pay attention not only to what they are saying but also how they say
it—a change in tone or facial expression could indicate something significant even if the words
don’t make sense at first glance. Take time to decipher what they are trying to say—they may be
trying whatever words they know at the moment, so be patient and listen closely for patterns in
their speech until the meaning becomes clear.

It is important to remain patient with someone with Alzheimer’s even in the early stages of the
disease. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, “In the early stage of Alzheimer’s disease,
sometimes referred to as mild Alzheimer’s in a medical context, an individual is still able to
participate in meaningful conversation and engage in social activities. However, he or she may
repeat stories, feel overwhelmed by excessive stimulation or have difficulty finding the right

Sometimes all it takes is a few seconds of silence and thoughtfulness before comprehension sets

Being able to communicate effectively with someone who has dementia is an essential part of
providing care for them during this difficult time in their lives – as well as maintaining a strong
bond between family members. By using simple language, body language, physical contact, and
active listening techniques, families can foster an environment where meaningful communication
persists despite dementia’s effects on memory and language skills. With patience, understanding,
and empathy from everyone involved, communicating with those affected by this disease does
not have to be difficult.

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