What To Keep In Mind While Talking To Someone With Dementia

Updated on August 11, 2020

It’s anything but easy to manage conditions like Alzheimer’s, which affects moods, behaviors, communicative functions, memory, focus, and other cognitive abilities of the brain. Not only do the people having the conditions suffer but also their loved ones, as they can’t control the frustration, aggression, or other mood disorders associated with Alzheimer’s and similar conditions. 

Although dementia is irreversible, you can always control and manage the situation from getting out of hands real soon with proper care, guidance, and of course, unconditional love. There are some things that everyone should keep in mind while interacting with such people and this post aims to shed some light on that. 

Know how to capture their attention

They can’t communicate with you if you don’t get their attention, as they seem to be always immersed in a different world altogether. You should get rid of all distractions like the TV, people speaking loudly, music or radio, excessive light and noise outside, or domestic sounds by closing the door of the room, pulling the drapes in and shutting the windows, if possible. 

Touch them while communicating 

You should then sit down at their level and initiate the conversation through touch and eye contact. Hold their hands, look into their eyes, and speak in a reassuring voice. The expert caregivers at Seniors Home Care feel that you should start by introducing yourself even if you’re family, as they don’t remember relationships for long. Talk slowly and steadily and never lose eye contact. 

Don’t talk in pronouns

They can’t link the pronouns with real people, so you should stop using them altogether. Use the names of people or places every time you refer to the same. For example, you shouldn’t say, “Hanks was asking about your health, as he feels concerned”, but, “Hanks was asking about your health, as Hanks feels concerned about you.” 

Be clear in what you say 

People with dementia are in no condition to comprehend cryptic, complicated messages. You should talk to them in clear words slowly by maintaining the same level of tone. Refrain from raising your voice, as they can get excited or scared and consider repeating the sentences if they are unable to understand your message. You can also try rephrasing your words if they don’t get you the first time but make sure you do that after a pause. 

Use all your senses

People with Alzheimer’s or other similar conditions may not be able to communicate their ideas through words. You should be attentive and try to listen with your eyes and heart, besides your ears. Rely on their expressions and body language to understand what they are trying to say. It may seem difficult and almost impossible at first, but with practice, you can get a grip on things. 

Ask ‘yes’ or ‘no’ questions

Don’t ask them questions that require long sentences to answer. Simple, ‘yes’ or ‘no’ ones will do, so construct your questions accordingly. Don’t give them too many options to choose from, as their brains won’t be able to respond and create agitation. 

Wrapping it up

If any of your loved ones have dementia, you should try to be patient and compassionate with them. Just remember that they are helpless in their stature and you can’t do anything about it, except being empathetic. Don’t push them to behave normally, as they can’t. Get down to their level and speak to them in the language they understand. Soon you’ll find that it’s not as difficult as you had imagined it to be. 


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