Communication Tips for Dementia Caregivers

As Alzheimer’s disease and dementia progresses, communication can become impaired, leading to confusion, frustration and stress. Fortunately, there are ways for dementia caregivers to communicate effectively with loved ones impacted by the disease.Communication Tips for Dementia Caregivers

Learn more from theses insightful communication tips for dementia caregivers.

The Impact of Alzheimer’s and Dementia on Communication

As dementia progresses, the person affected may begin to have trouble communicating.

While the exact progression of the disease is different for each person, it is common for them to repeat stories or not be able to find the words they need to get their point across. Other communication issues may include disorganized speech, easily losing track of thoughts and speaking in tangents, inventing new words, speaking less or speaking in a native language.

Even if the person who is affected by dementia cannot properly express themselves, they can often still experience feelings and emotions. They may have trouble understanding others, but can often still respond. This makes communicating with someone who has the disease more complicated and can make some dementia caregivers feel anxious, irritated and helpless.

The Importance of Showing Empathy and Patience

When communicating with a person affected by dementia, how you say something is often more important than what you say.

They may become frustrated that they are failing to communicate something and may also be frustrated because they don’t understand what is being communicated to them.

It is crucial to show empathy, patience and understanding.

Here are some tips that you can use to show compassion in communication:

Dos and Don’ts for Communicating with Someone Affected By Dementia

  • Don’t be personally offended if the person who has dementia becomes paranoid or accusatory
  • Do encourage reminiscing if it’s enjoyable for your loved one
  • Do ignore offensive language and try to redirect attention if the person with dementia begins using bad language
  • Do keep it simple by asking one question or giving one direction at a time if your loved one does not remember how to perform activities of daily living
  • Do speak in a normal tone of voice at a normal volume
  • Don’t stop trying
  • Don’t use negative statements
  • Do use their first name to get their attention
  • Do your best to eliminate any distractions such as TV or radio

Tips for Communicating with Someone Affected by Dementia

  1. Avoid criticizing or correcting, and repeat what they said if something needs to be clarified.
  2. Do not interrupt the person speaking.
  3. Do not talk about your loved one like they are not in the room. Always assume he or she can understand what you are saying.
  4. Focus on feelings rather than facts and be aware of body language and tone of voice.
  5. Let them know it’s okay if they have trouble finding their words.
  6. Show respect in your speech by avoiding baby talk.
  7. Stay calm even if the conversation becomes frustrating.

Even if a loved one has lost most of their verbal skills, remember that people with Alzheimer’s can understand kind touch, laughter and smiles.

What are some tried and true ways that you have used to communicate with a loved one who has dementia? We’d like to hear your tips in the comments below.

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Please leave your thoughts and comments

  • Molly

    my husband has Parkinson’s Disease and his speech and thought process is affected

  • senior3citizen

    my Mother has vascular dementia and unable to comprehend what I am saying sometimes so I have ruled notebook paper which I print in large lettering what I want to say.

  • Mary

    Compliments have worked wonders on my Ma’s mood and attitude. After telling her that she made a very, very smart decision to move into the Oak Park Arms and she worked all her life for the Social Security and savings that are paying for it, I could hear the smile in her voice.

  • Morag Swanepoel

    My partner with VD started talking in Fanagalo a lot.
    It started at night in her half sleep but became quite normal for her to lapse into this language. It seemed to be a phase but she still felt comfortable using it.

    With regards Hearing – she did go through some months of not being able to hear and I thought this was her brain but turned out to actually be a huge build up of wax. The lesson here is to not blame dementia for everything.
    Very difficult when the patient cannot communicate.
    Best wishes and love to all Care Warriors out there – its the hardest thing I ever have done in my life.

  • Hi Alissa,
    Thank you for sharing these helpful tips.
    People with dementia from conditions such as dementia have a progressive biological brain disorder that makes it more and more difficult for them to remember things, think clearly, communicate with others, and take care of themselves. And caring for a loved one with dementia poses many challenges for families and caregivers.
    Also read what are the Caring Options for Alzheimer’s and Dementia Patients.

  • Aaron

    It is so important that we take good care of our elderly. Senior Insight provides assisted living facility software for our senior people, including medication and document management. Its really cool software. Check out more info

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