How To Talk To Someone With Dementia
As you may know, dementia causes a person troubles with memory and comprehension. As it is a progressive illness, the symptoms will likely get more severe over time. Therefore, talking to someone with dementia can be challenging, especially in the later stages of their condition. If you are caring for a loved one with dementia, you may have to learn how to adapt your communication style to help them during the conversation.
How to Communicate With Someone With Dementia
Here are some tips on how to talk to someone with dementia. You can visit the Alzheimer’s Society website or read the NHS guidelines if you need more information.
Depending on how advanced their condition is, their verbal reasoning or comprehension may not be as it used to be. So keep your language uncomplicated and speak clearly so the person with dementia can understand you. Allow them time to reply and feel comfortable sitting in silence with them while their brain processes the conversation.
Don’t patronise or dispute what they say (even if you know they are confusing the facts), and be prepared to repeat yourself or rephrase sentences calmly.
Use Different Ways of Communication
As dementia progresses, the person may have trouble understanding or forming a response. Therefore, you can supplement verbal communication with body language and, depending on the person and the situation, either include physical touch or keep at a short distance (whatever you think they need at that moment, then you can monitor their reactions and react accordingly). It also helps to mimic their stance or keep at a lower level to them, i.e. sit if they are sitting.
Communication isn’t all about adding more to the conversation. It is equally important to use skills in listening to encourage the other person to talk.
To actively listen, try to take in what the person is saying without thinking of your response immediately. You can show active listening using skills to help encourage them to speak by repeating a few keywords back to them, ignoring distractions, using positive facial expressions, smiling, nodding, and maintaining eye contact.
Don’t Neglect Your Own Needs
Having a family member or friend diagnosed with dementia is a complex process. Therefore, dealing with your grief or other feelings surrounding your loved one’s diagnosis is important.
It may cause you to feel anticipatory grief (grief before the person is lost) or disenfranchised grief (feeling like others don’t accept your grief because your loved one is still living).
We recommend seeking professional therapy or other forms of bereavement support. You may also benefit from joining a support group to surround yourself with others going through parallel experiences. Some people also find it helpful to wear a piece of sentimental Memorial Jewellery, such as a necklace from our Photo Jewellery, Fingerprint Jewellery or Handwriting Jewellery collections. Then you can hold the pendant in your hand when you wish to feel close to the person you love.