8 Ways to Communicate With Someone That Has Dementia

8 Ways to Communicate With Someone That Has Dementia

It’s not always easy to communicate with an individual that has dementia or Alzheimer’s. A lot of emotions are involved and it is difficult to assess what your loved one is thinking or going through. If you’re looking for ways to make your family member comfortable, we have outlined 8 tips you should utilize while talking to someone with dementia.

1)    Speak Slowly and in Short Sentences.

Give your family member with dementia time to process your words and thoughts. This can be accomplished by speaking slowly. If you find yourself struggling to talk with someone that has dementia or Alzheimer’s, make an effort to breathe or count a few seconds between each sentence. To decrease agitation for your loved one with dementia provide enough time for them to respond.

2)    Make Eye Contact With Your Family Member or Patient

Eye contact is an essential part of any form of communication and is essential when communicating with dementia patients or family members. It may forge a connection between the two of you and  give your loved one time to possibly recognize who they are speaking with. Do not hover over a person with Alzheimer’s or dementia while you are communicating. This manner of communication may be intimidating and will make it hard for your family member to engage in eye contact or conversation. Rather  bend down to be at the same level as they are, facilitating a more respectful conversation.  

3)    Engage in Activities Your Family Member Is Familiar With

An excellent way to make a family member with dementia comfortable is to conduct activities they enjoy. If you’re looking to talk to a family member with Alzheimer’s about their favorite musical artists, bring an iPod or phone to their home and play their favorite songs. Did your mother or father like photography? We recommend bringing an old photo album of their projects and talking to them about the inspiration of each piece.

Related Article: The Benefits of Detecting Alzheimer’s Disease Early

4)    Do Not Talk Down to a Loved One

Your family member is not a child. While they may be struggling with an Alzheimer’s or dementia diagnosis, do not talk down to them. This may cause your loved one to become irritated, sad or unengaged. And, don’t use baby talk when addressing your loved one with dementia: you are engaging with a respected older adult. 

8 Ways to Communicate With Someone That Has Dementia5)    Avoid Arguments

We do not recommend communicating with a family member that has dementia in an argumentative manner. For example, if your family member recently forgot to pay a bill, do not argue with them about this issue. Instead, talk with your mother or father about the issue in a calm and productive manner. You should consider discussing the bill or statement with your family member to ensure they understand it.

6)    Validate the Feelings of Your Family Member

Although you may not understand what a family member is feeling, this doesn’t mean that what they are feeling isn’t valid. Instead of trying to alter their beliefs, show them empathy by talking with them about their experiences and thoughts.  

7)    Don’t Assume Your Family Member Won’t Remember Something

Just because your family member can’t remember everything doesn’t mean that they can’t remember anything. It is a positive thing for an Alzheimer’s patient to have a clear memory. Be happy when you get those experiences.

Related Article: Common Signs of Parkinson’s Disease & Ways to Respond

8) Let Your Family Member Share Memories

Typically, Alzheimer’s patients are more likely to recall past experiences rather than current ones. If you are talking to someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia, give them time to tell stories about previous achievements, holidays, and events. 

What Are the 7 Stages of Alzheimer’s Disease?Memory Care Options

If you need assistance caring for a family member with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia, give us a call by phone at (630) 534-0886. Terra Vista is a memory care community in Oakbrook Terrace, Illinois that specializes at caring for individuals with various types of Alzheimer’s. We offer a convenient 12 month guaranteed rate that will make it easy to prepare for the future.

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