Having Conversations with Someone Who Has Dementia

A dementia diagnosis is not just difficult for the patient, but also for those around them. As their condition progresses, it can be hard to properly connect and engage with your loved one. As well as their memory fading, someone with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease can also struggle to express themselves properly and may even experience changes to their personality.

However, it’s still important to spend time with your loved one and try to connect with them, so we’re going to provide some tips to help you have positive conversations with someone who has dementia or Alzheimer’s.

Don’t talk down to them

Speaking slowly and clearly to your loved one will make it easier for them to understand you, but it’s important not to go overboard with this. People sometimes have a tendency to speak loudly and slowly to make themselves understood, but this can come off as patronizing when exaggerated. Also, your loud tone could come across as angry.

Similarly, you may need to use simple and clear language to communicate with them, but don’t take this as far as practically speaking in baby talk, or “elderspeak”. Your loved one may still be able to pick up on the fact that you’re treating them differently, perhaps making them feel frustrated or self-conscious.

Eye contact and physical contact

It’s usually important to make eye contact with a dementia patient when you talk to them. Come down to their level to start the conversation – sitting in a chair next to them, for example, rather than standing over them. Making eye contact can help you connect more easily and show that you’re actually listening to what they say.

Physical contact can also help in some situations, but only if your loved one is comfortable with it. A hand on the shoulder, for example, can be comforting and help you connect better. Also, think about your body language and hand gestures as you talk.

Be patient

You may find that your loved one repeats themselves, takes longer to say what they’re trying to say, and forgets your name or who you are, as well as other details. While this may be upsetting or frustrating at times, it’s important that you stay patient with them. Trying to rush them, correct them, or getting annoyed with them can be upsetting and overwhelming to your loved one.

If you have a loved one who has been diagnosed with dementia and needs additional care or specialized memory care services, then contact Brookstone Terrace of Woodruff for our support and to find out more about our assisted living services and facilities.