Helping the Person with Dementia with Communication

Your Approach to Listening:

Communicating with a person with dementia requires patience and understanding. First and foremost, you must be a good listener.

When helping a person with dementia to communicate:

Be Patient and supportive: Let him/her know you are listening and trying to understand what they are saying.

Show your interest: Maintain eye contact and show that you care about what they are saying.

Offer comfort and reassurance: If the person is having difficulty expressing themselves, let them know its o.k. Encourage them to continue to explain their thoughts.

Give them plenty of time: Let them think about and describe what they want. Be careful not to interrupt.

Avoid criticizing or correcting: Don’t tell them what they are saying is incorrect, even if it is. Rather listen and try to find meaning in what is being said. Repeat what was said if clarification is needed.

Don’t argue (ever): If the person says something you don’t agree with, let it be. Arguing often will only make things worse or escalate false impressions.

Offer a guess: If they use the wrong word or cannot find a word, try helping out. If you understand what is meant, it may not be necessary to provide the correct word. In either case, be careful not to cause unnecessary frustration.

Focus on feelings, not facts: Sometimes, the emotions being expressed are more important than what is being said. Look for the feelings behind the words. At times, the tone of voice and other actions may help you understand how the person is really feelings.

Limit your distractions: Find a place that is quiet, so that you won’t be interrupted allowing the person with AD to focus on their thoughts.

Encourage them to communicate non-verbally: If you don’t understand what is being said, ask them to point or gesture.

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