Senior woman with dementia visiting with her adult caregiver.

Ways to Talk to Your Loved One Who is Living with Dementia

September 25, 2020 | Alzheimer's & Dementia

Caring for someone living with dementia is challenging for many different reasons. Whether it’s your parent, aunt, uncle or another loved one, this is an emotional and confusing time for both of you. Part of what makes dementia such a complicated condition to care for are the effects it has on communication skills. Due to nerve cell damage, dementia can negatively impact speech, language and an individual’s ability to communicate with others.

While dementia affects everyone differently, there are a few strategies that can help you communicate effectively and clearly.

How to Talk to Someone with Dementia

Knowing how to talk to someone with dementia offers two key benefits: First, it helps keep them calm and relaxed throughout conversations. Second, it allows caregivers like yourself to maintain a positive and fulfilling relationship with your loved one.

To achieve this, the Alzheimer’s Association recommends the following communication methods:

Maintain a Positive Mood in the Conversation

People struggling with dementia have a lot of noise in their heads, making it much more difficult to focus. To hold their attention and avoid making them feel overwhelmed, ask one question at a time. Keep in mind that questions with “yes”or “no”answers tend to work best to avoid confusion.

Have Clear, Concise Conversations

Short words and simple sentences are best when conversing with someone with dementia. Speak slowly and enunciate each word to help them understand what you’re saying without feeling lost or confused. There may come a time when questions need to be repeated, as people with dementia miss every fourth word spoken to them. When talking to someone with dementia, simply rephrase the question in a calm demeanor, as raising your voice can scare them.

Respond with Affection and Reassurance

As an individual’s dementia progresses, they’ll become increasingly confused, anxious and unsure of themselves. They may recall events that never happened or repeat the same stories over and over again. Rather than trying to convince them otherwise, use verbal and physical expressions of comfort, support and reassurance. These can include smiling, soft eye contact, gentle hand patting, hugs and nodding.

Maintain a Sense of Humor

People with dementia still crave social interaction with family members and friends. In fact, socialization can actually help people with dementia keep their memory sharp longer. When talking to your loved one with dementia, maintain your sense of humor and keep conversations light to help them laugh and enjoy themselves.

Experience Dedicated Memory Support at CC Young

The CC Young Memory Support staff is trained to provide person-centered care that is in tune with resident triggers, times of day that seem to be the most stressful, and other trends that allow us to truly personalize the support we provide. Our goal is to help our Memory Support residents live as independently as possible, help them maintain social connections, and interact with family and friends as often as possible–all factors needed to improve individual quality of life.

The Vista Memory Support offers comprehensive and compassionate services designed to help each resident remain active, enjoy life, and enhance their mind, body and spirit. To learn more about the Memory Support levels of care available at CC Young, contact us at 214-817-0486.

Go Back