4 Ways to Communicate With a Loved One Who Has Dementia

Memory loss, the inability to speak, and a reduction in problem-solving skills are some of the symptoms of dementia. The condition, which is triggered by damage to the brain cells, can alter relationships with loved ones who have been diagnosed. Whether they receive senior care services or live with you, the encouraging news is that communicating with them is still possible. Here are several ways to keep the interaction going.

How to Talk to Loved Ones With Dementia
1. Offer Reassurance

Dementia can cause someone to be overwhelmed with feelings of anxiety or confusion. Acknowledge their emotions instead of dismissing them.

Lovingly offer reassurance with verbal expressions of support and comfort. Physical contact, such as hugging, kissing, or holding hands can also help diminish fear and uncertainty.

2. Be Clear & Concise

Long sentences and rapid talking may be too much for a person with dementia to process. If they’re unable to understand you, they could become frustrated or angry.

When you or a senior care companion is speaking, keep words and phrases clear and to the point. Talk in a lower register—speaking too loudly can be startling. If needed, repeat the question or sentence a few times.

3. Listen With Patience

Stay engaged and listen intently when your loved one is speaking or answering a question. Never rush them or finish their sentences. If you sense they’re struggling to express themselves, patiently recommend words.

Pay attention to body language to tailor your response. For example, nodding, pointing, and other non-verbal cues may offer insight on how to keep communication going. Remind relatives about interacting with patience.

4. Redirect When Needed

Be flexible if your loved one gets angry or combative. Instead of scolding, redirect by changing the subject. A change of scenery is also an effective way to take the focus away from frustrated feelings.

Ask if they would like their favorite snack or offer to take them to the park. The key is to acknowledge how your loved one feels and then shift to something more appealing.

Continuing to communicate with a parent, relative, or friend with dementia is strongly encouraged. At Sally’s Place in Swanzey, NH, loving and personal connections are always emphasized. The team of compassionate, licensed, and professional senior care companions offers a nurturing environment that reinforces cognitive stimulation. From arts and crafts to sing-alongs, there are a host of fun and safe activities to help your loved one stay engaged. To arrange a tour and meet the staff, call (603) 338-0073. You can also register online.

Hear about the Active Day Care experience!

"Sallys Place is great. Rick loved the one to one attention he received. Great for both of us."

Richard M.

"I send my dad there on Fridays, and he is so much happier and easier to deal with over the weekend."