How To Communicate with Someone with Dementia


Watch our caregiving video that describes how to speak with someone with dementia. The videos are excerpts from the "Accepting the Challenge" DVD, produced by Alzheimers North Carolina, Inc.

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.

View References

Alzheimer’s Association, New York City Chapter. Communicating. Available at: Retrieved January 24, 2011.