7 Tips for Talking to Someone with Dementia or Alzheimer’s
Increase the odds of a successful talk and create communication that fosters respect and genuine warmth.
No matter what stage of Dementia or Alzheimer’s your loved one is in,
the communication and human connection you create
is vital for their well-being.
Try These 7 Tips:
Tip #1 – Keep It Simple
Avoid long, complex sentences that can create confusion due to cognitive impairment.
Tip #2 – Avoid “Baby” Talk
Do not use childish vocabulary with baby-ish tones. This is disrespectful, not effective, and can make care-giving more difficult. Speak with respect, kindness and compassion.
Tip #3 – Give Simple Choices
Use short, simple choices when you communicate, like, “Would you like A or B?” This helps them focus and gives them some control.
Do not ask open-ended questions like, “What do you want to do?” This can be overwhelming and cause confusion.
Tip #4 – Slow It Down
Take time to pause when talking. Be willing to repeat and elaborate, then wait patiently for a response. They need the extra time to hear you, make a mental connection and then respond.
Tip #5 – Be Concrete & Use Names
Those with dementia respond to specific, concrete language, and people’s names. Say, “Let’s go the Park”, instead of “Where should we go?”
Do not use pet names, or use “he” or “she” – this can cause a lack of understanding and stop a conversation. When you introduce yourself, or refer to others, use their preferred name – not their title.
It’s more helpful to say, “Hi, Dad, its’ Debbie!” Rather than, “ Hi Dad, it’s me, your daughter…” This can help avoid confusion.
Tip #6 – Use Their Environment
Objects such as photographs, food, music, people, or any number of other things can provide stimulation! This visual and audial approach stimulates them and can help begin a conversation.
Tip #7 – Talk To the Person & Enter Their World
Get down to face level, look them in the eye, and create a connection.
Talking with someone who has dementia is not like a “normal” conversation.
Do not worry about correcting inaccurate comments. Make a decision to temporarily live in their reality and let them speak. Their reality can be very different from yours.
Depending on what stage of disease they are in, your loved one may believe that their deceased spouse is still alive, or that they are a world-class fisherman. If living in their reality isn’t hurting anybody, play along, ease their anxiety and brighten their mood!
Need More Information? Check the Aloha Chapter – Alzheimer’s Association
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