Communicating Clearly and Properly with Someone with Dementia: Your Top Questions Answered

Dementia can come with more symptoms as the condition progresses, and these symptoms can include confusion, aggression, a lack of ability to care for oneself (especially when it comes to performing tasks such as grooming, eating, bathing, and the like), and more. But one of the foremost symptoms of dementia can be the lack of ability to communicate. As the condition progresses, someone with dementia may find it increasingly harder to express themselves, and this is where a lot of patience and understanding is required. But how can you communicate with someone with dementia in a patient, knowledgeable, and understanding way? Here’s what you need to know about communicating clearly and properly with someone with dementia: your top questions answered.

  • Clear and slow speech and simple questions

It’s important for anyone trying to communicate with someone with dementia to speak clearly and slowly, making use of simple and concise words and short but easily-understandable sentences. If your loved one does not understand what you are saying, repeat your sentence or question but do it carefully; perhaps you need to re-phrase the sentence or question as well. It is better to ask them ‘yes’ or ‘no’ questions and keep your questions as simple as possible. For instance, rather than asking them what they want to have for lunch, it would be better to ask them whether they want to have chicken for lunch, which they can easily answer with a yes or no.

  • Trying to understand

If your family member with dementia is trying to say something but you are having difficulty understanding what they are trying to say, try to make sense instead of their actual meaning rather than the words they are using.

  • Avoid corrections

It is also important that you do not contradict the person, even if what they are saying is wrong or what they are remembering is not correct. The best thing you can do is just listen to them; this will help them feel acknowledged and respected. Getting into a debate about a wrong answer or wrong memory is one of the worst things you can do. Also, try to avoid ‘checking’ or ‘testing’ their memory; don’t ask the person what they ate that morning, for example, as chances are, they won’t remember. People with dementia tend to forget recent memories but are more adept at remembering old memories.

  • Help them along with a special memory scrapbook

If you are keen on helping your loved one remember certain events or people, you can help them along by creating a special memory scrapbook. You can include photos of family members, especially during happy and memorable events such as birthday parties, holidays, weddings, and the birth of kids and grandkids. The great aspect about a special scrapbook is that if ever you decide to get professional help (such as live in care for your loved one), the book can help the caregiver get to know the person and understand their experiences in the past. It’s a way to show the caregiver how much you love your family member, making the caregiver appreciate them more and enhancing their empathy for your family member as well.


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