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How to Speak to Someone with Dementia

This video clip provides advice on speaking to a person with dementia (time: 1 minute 30 seconds).

When speaking with an individual with dementia, whether it be Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease dementia, Vascular dementia, or any of the many other types of dementias, it’s important to bear in mind that you need to speak to that person differently than you would someone without dementia. Knowing how to speak to a dementia patient is the key to having successful communication and interaction with that individual. These verbal interaction skills, which include three components, are as follows: How you speak, what it is you say, and how you react to the dementia patient’s effort to communicate.

First, you need to be aware of how to say what it is you want to say to the Alzheimer’s patient. The tone of your voice should be friendly and approachable, your pitch kept low, and the speed in which you talk, slow. For example, you don’t want what you say to come across as bossy, as this is likely to create a situation where the individual will not want to communicate with you or follow direction from you.

When it comes to the pitch of your voice, it’s important to be aware that people who are older lose the ability to hear higher pitches of voice. Therefore, the higher your voice gets, the more difficult it will be for an Alzheimer’s patient to understand you. That’s why it’s important to keep your pitch low. This enables the individual with dementia the opportunity to better comprehend what you are trying to express.

As mentioned above, it’s important for you to talk slowly to an individual with dementia. People with Alzheimer’s disease have slower reaction times and it takes them longer than a healthy person to understand what you are saying. Therefore, if you talk too quickly, the individual will not be able to take in what you are saying.

This video clip provides advice on speaking to a person with dementia (time: 1 minute 30 seconds).

This video clip provides advice on speaking to a person with dementia.