If you are a caregiver for a loved one with dementia, communication may not come easy for them. Challenges such as having a hard time understanding what the the person is trying to say, along with confusion, frustration, and misunderstandings are very common. Here is a quick guideline to help in communicating with someone with Dementia. If you know what to expect, it will be easier to come up with a strategy.

Common Communication Issues for Those Living With Dementia

Many people with dementia suffer from communication issues. While not all dementia patients will have each of these issues, these are among the more common problems that caretakers see. Here are some issues that might arise with the dementia patient.

  • Substituting words
  • Finding the right word
  • Describing an item instead of naming it
  • Not speaking as often
  • Repeating stories, words, or questions
  • Mixing up ideas and phrases
  • Losing a train of thought
  • Reverting to a first language

Communication Skills to Practice

Good communication skills are vital to making sure your loved one is getting the care they need. Below, we will discuss some key skills that will help you better help your loved one.

Communication and Connections

Connecting with them can help them focus on the conversation. Make eye contact, hold their hands, and call the person by name.

Your Body Language

Your body language can make a huge difference in keeping your loved one calm and focused. Stay relaxed, calm, and friendly. While dementia patients may not be as adept in decoding your words, they can read facial cues very well. Because of this, your body language can be vital to providing good communication. Additionally, try to limit background distractions in order to really listen and interpret patiently.

Offering Comfort

Individuals with dementia can often get frustrated if you aren’t understanding them. If they are getting frustrated, tell them it is OK and provide encouragement. Overall, try to avoid arguing and correcting mistakes.

Respect and Specific Questions

Avoid baby talk and “elder speak” which can result in resistance. General questions will create confusion. Keep questions short and specific, such as “Would you like a hamburger or pasta for dinner?”

Visual Cues

Visual cues can help the patient better understand than words alone. This can be showing them the shower or toilet rather than asking if they are ready for a shower or use the bathroom. Consider making a board with pictures of common household items, family members, and more. Pointing to these pictures, and encouraging them to do so can help bridge gaps in communication.

Patience and Communication

Proper communication can take your loved one a little extra time. Try your best to give them the time they need to discuss their needs. Take breaks if necessary. Additionally, try your best to avoid showing frustration.

Evolving Your Approach as Their Condition Progresses

As the disease progresses, so must your approach to communication. Stages of Dementia are different and the ability to communicate changes. Below, we will provide helpful resources for families of dementia patients.

Local Resources For Families

There are resources that are very helpful with the different stages of dementia and strategies to be used. The National Institute on Aging, the Alzheimer’s Association along with local organizations in your area. Here are some resources for Staten Islanders.

New York City Department for the Aging

Help with navigating all things seniors- centers, caregiver support, food assistance, cooling centers, and more. Click here to visit.

Alzheimer’s Association of New York City

Explore the many events, support groups, resources, research, and educational programs offered by this well-respected organization. Click here to visit.

The Jewish Community Center of Staten Island (JCC)

Besides Senior Centers on Staten Island, the JCC offers many senior services including memory loss programs, caregiver support groups, transportation, meal prep, and recreation. Virtual and in-person. Click here to visit.

Safe Harbor Healthcare Services does not provide medical, healthcare, or financial advice via articles. This material has been prepared for informational purposes only. It is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for medical advice.
Safe Harbor Healthcare Services has provided excellent home care on Staten Island since 1967. Our services help older individuals and the disabled live safely and independently; while giving their families the peace of mind they need. For more information contact us by clicking here, or call (718)-979-6900.