7 Tips for Communicating with Someone with Dementia

Dementia is a progressive illness that can affect an individual's ability to remember a conversation, fact or name of family members or friends. This can be frustrating not only for the person with the illness, but for people around them. They could be having a conversation and forget what they were talking about by losing train of thought or have difficulty in organizing words logically. When communicating with someone who has dementia or Alzheimer's Disease, there are several ways to help improve conversation.

1. Use familiar words and speak clearly and slowly. This allows time for a response and to comprehend what is being said.

2. Be patient and supportive. You need to let the person know that you understand what they are saying and show that you care about what it is they are talking about.

Speaking with someone suffering from Dementia can be trying, but don't get frustrated

3. Give encouragement to keep trying to say what is on their mind. Sometimes the person with dementia will get frustrated or stop talking, but with a little encouragement they may continue what they were talking about or start up a new conversation.

4. Give time to respond. Avoid any kind of interruption. If the person with dementia has trouble organizing their thoughts then let them know that you are there to listen. Don't interrupt when they are speaking and allow them to say what is on their mind and when there is a pause let them know you want to hear what they have to say.

5. Give simple choices. Always avoid anything that may be too complicated such as a large menu of choices. Go to a familiar restaurant and ask them what they want, and suggest their favorite dish. Otherwise they may feel frustrated because they can't remember what certain foods taste like or what certain things are.

6. Avoid correcting the person with dementia. This is not encouraging them to keep talking when you correct what they say, or correct the facts they are talking about. This will help prevent arguing, as well.

7. Limit distractions around you as much as possible. Sometimes this can be very difficult, but if it is hard to hold a conversation then ask them to point out what they are referring to or write it down or even use gesturing. This allows for a wider range of communication to happen.

These seven tips will help improve the conversation you will have with a family member or friend that has dementia. It can be frustrating for everyone involved, but with a little patience and encouragement to keep a conversation going, communication will become a little easier.