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Communication in the Shadow of Dementia

Do you find it difficult to communicate with someone with dementia? If yes, don’t worry, you’re not alone. As the illness progresses, people’s cognitive ability decline further and they lose their ability to remember things. They often keep repeating themselves. As a result, people can find it hard to hold a conversation with them. Here are some tips to help you maintain a conversation with those who suffer from dementia: Many people will still enjoy their hobbies. 

Try to plan an activity that they like, get them involved in the planning and keep the conversation around the activity. Cooking could be a good example. Be mindful of your pace, speak clearly and avoid asking complex questions. For example, “how about going for a walk” rather than “what would you like to do this afternoon?” Sit in a way that you can maintain eye contact with them when they talk or ask a question. Try to smile and stay calm. If you show that you feel stressed, they will feel the same way. If there are many people in the same room they can get confused and tired. Move to somewhere more quiet and comfortable or ask people to move if that’s possible. Keep the conversation simple and use props. If the conversation is about family members or their past a family photo album can help. Focus on the bigger picture. 

People with dementia will find it extremely difficult to remember facts. Getting them to smile or laugh loud is far more important than correcting them. Stay at the same level or lower than they are to avoid intimidating them. Touch can be reassuring. Holding their hand or a pat at their shoulder can help them trust you. They may not remember your face but this will give them peace of mind and reassurance that they are safe. Watch their body language to make sure they are comfortable and minimise distractions such as lights or the radio playing too loudly. Take a break and look after your health. Care & Carers can always help.