Helping the person with dementia to understand

Posted by Kristina Law on Feb 12, 2014

In Alzheimer's & Dementia, Main



Your Approach to communicating:

Communication can become increasingly challenging. Sensitive, ongoing communication is important, no matter how difficult it may become or how confused the person with Alzheimer'sdisease may appear. Although the person many not always respond, they still require and will benefit from continued communication. Treat the person with Alzheimer's disease with respect. Never talk down and always remain patient.

Choose Your Words Carefully:

To enhance your interactions try some of the following techniques:

  1. Identify Yourself - approach from the front and tell (or remind) the person who you are.
  2. Address the person by name - This is not only courteous, but also helps orient the person and gets their attention.

  3. Use short, simple, familiar words and sentences - Don't overwhelm the person with lengthy requests or stories. Speak concisely and keep to the point. In some cases, slang words or words familiar within the person's culture, may be helpful.

  4. Talk slowly and clearly and be knowledgeable about hearing problems - Be aware of speed and clarity when speaking, keep voice at a moderate level and do not raise your voice to a higher sounding pitch.

  5. Give only one step directions - Break tasks and instructions into clear simple steps, giving one step at a time.

  6. Ask only one question at a time. Don't overwhelm or confuse the patient with too many questions at a time.

  7. Patiently wait for a response - The person may need some extra time to process your request. Give a little time and encouragement to respond.

  8. Repeat information or questions - If the person does not respond, wait a moment and ask again. Use the same phrase and words as before.

  9. Turn questions into answers - Try providing the solution, rather than the question. For example say "The bathroom is right here" instead of asking " Do you need to use the bathroom?"

  10. Avoid pronouns (he, she, it) - Instead of saying "Here is is," try "Here is your hat."

  11. Make negatives more positive - Instead of saying " Don't go here" try saying "Let's go here."

  12. Try again later - If the patient looks like he's not paying attention, try to communicate again a little later.

We also created an online support group that is free of charge and available to you 24/7. Please visit this link to join the group Caregiving Network so that you can join our conversation nationwide on the issues related to Alzheimer’s.


Written by Mindy Hill - Mindy is a Director of Sales & Marketing for iCare - Home Health & Hospice.