The Alzheimer’s Association, New York City Chapter has outlined the following tips for communicating with your loved one with dementia:
- Let the person know you are listening and trying to understand what is being said.
- Keep good eye contact. Show the person that you care about what is being said.
- Let the person think about and describe whatever he or she wants to. Be careful not to interrupt.
- Avoid criticizing, correcting and arguing.
- If the person uses the wrong word or cannot find a word, try guessing the right one.
- If you don’t understand what is being said, ask the person to point or gesture.
- Focus on the feelings, not the facts. Sometimes the emotions being expressed are more important than what is being said. Look for the feelings behind the words.
- Always approach the person from the front. Tell the person who you are.
- Call the person by name. It helps orient the person and gets his or her attention.
- Use short, simple words and sentences. Talk slowly and clearly.
- Ask one question at a time.
- Patiently wait for a response. A person may need extra time to process your request.
- Repeat information and questions. If the person doesn’t respond, wait a moment. Then ask again.
- Avoid quizzing. Reminiscing can be healthy, but avoid asking, “Do you remember when…?”
- Give simple explanations. Avoid using logic and reason at great length. Give a complete response in a clear and concise way.
Alzheimer’s Association, New York City Chapter. Communicating. Available at: http://www.alznyc.org/caregivers/communicate.asp#how. Retrieved January 24, 2011.