Tips for Helping Dementia Patients Communicate

Dementia and Alzheimer’s attacks the ability to communicate and understand, which is frustrating for both the patient and their loved ones. Last week, we wrote a post on tips for communicating with someone who suffers from dementia or Alzheimer’s, and this week we’re looking at helping them communicate. We know that it’s incredibly hard to see someone you love struggling to find the words or communicate their needs, and it’s what makes dementia such a terrible disease. Next time you’re with your senior loved one, try this advice:

  • Listen patiently. People with dementia can get frustrated trying to search for the right words, so rushing them along or interrupting (even by helping) can exacerbate those feelings of frustration. Be a good listener – show your support with eye contact and reassurance, but be patient.
  • Do not correct. We like to say “connect, don’t correct”. Sometimes people with dementia say the wrong words for things, so it’s important to understand the meaning and the feeling, rather than just the words that come out of their mouth, and avoid the reflex to help them by correcting.
  • Do not criticise. Your loved one suffering from dementia may make mistakes or perform behaviours that to you seem odd or silly, but it’s important not to make them feel bad by pointing them out or telling them that they did something wrong. Treat dementia sufferers with dignity, and avoid anything that could be perceived as criticism.
  • Do not argue. Sometimes, people with dementia will have a tendency to argue or use language that seems out of character for them. Don’t let yourself get drawn in – joining them in the debate or argument will only frustrate them further. Instead be patient, understanding, and supportive.

Communicating with dementia is hard. We understand this, and we’re here for you and your family.