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Eric Dewhirst Eric Dewhirst
February 9, 2018 ● Memory Care 2 min read

10 Helpful Tips for Communicating with a Person Living with Dementia

After interviewing some personal care workers as well as some friends that have dealt directly with this issue with their own paretns, I have come up with ten straightforward things you can do to make your visit with your loved one go more smoothly for you and them.

  1. You know what makes your loved one feel safe, secure, and happy? Your smile does;
  2. Always remember that when you get tense and uptight it makes your loved one feel tense and uptight;
  3. Instead of getting flustered when your loved one does something that seems perfectly normal to them, and perfectly ridiculous to you, it is best to just smile. It will take the edge off the situation all the way around;
  4. Please try to understand and remember that it is your loved ones short term memory, the in the moment memory, that is gone — so please talk a bit slower and use fewer words;
  5. Refrain from long winded explanations on why your loved one should do something? They will tend to say No if the question is too long. They are not certain what you are asking of them and they feel safer to say no then to agree to anything;
  6. Slow down. And don’t sneak up on on your loved one and start talking. Instead try and move slowly in front of them and start off with a smile first;
  7. Make sure you have your loved ones attention before you start off a conversation. If they are not ready to have a conversation then they will get confused and more than likely get frustrated or just say No;
  8. Your loved ones attention span and ability to pay attention are not as good as they once were, try and make eye contact with them before you start talking. A nice smile always gets their attention;
  9. You may find yourself talking to your loved one in a manner that you are not proud of, perhaps as if they were a small child or dim. If that happens, just let it pass, do not try and bring it back up again and make an apology for it. Your loved one has forgotten that moment, what is important is that you change your tone and language and not do that again. Everyone is learning how to communicate and as long as you learn from your mistakes everyone will benefit;
  10. Too much talking it too confusing, instead perhaps just hold your loved ones hand and share the moment. Reflective silence with a soft touch can go a long way.