10 Simple Ideas for Reaching Someone with Dementia

You have received the assessment from the doctor that your parent has dementia or Alzheimer’s, or perhaps you have slowly noticed the changes yourself. With the right resources and support you can continue to enjoy a meaningful and loving relationship with your parent.

It can be frustrating to communicate with loved ones when they are struggling with dementia. Understanding that their brain is not functioning normally and that information is not received or retrieved the same way anymore will help you to be more understanding. Imagine yourself in a group setting and there is laughter and conversation and for you it is like a ping-pong ball bouncing around that you can’t catch or follow. It is much like that for seniors with dementia. Socializing can become not only tiring but anxiety provoking as they struggle to keep up. The risk of depression increases as they come to feel left out of the loop.

Informing yourself about the condition and anticipating and preparing for the assistance you may require can help put your mind at ease. 

These helpful tips will assist you in communicating with your loved one who has dementia. 

  1. Speak naturally and calmly. Speak in an adult voice and do your best not to treat them in a childlike manner.
  2. Have conversations in a quiet place without distractions.
  3. Refer to people by name always. Avoid he and she.
  4. Your face is powerful for engaging. Keep eye contact and smile warmly it reassuring.
  5. Try your best to not debate and correct information they are sharing particularly if you know what they are attempting to get across. 
  6. Only talk about one subject at a time. Your loved one does not have the mental agility to bounce from subject to subject. 
  7. Listen actively. They will have good days and bad days and they may be sharing something precious.
  8. Be patient. Recognize how scary it must be for your loved one.
  9. Understand that dementia is progressive - adapt to their capabilities
  10. When you can’t be patient reach out and get help!