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Home > Health Library > Dementia: Tips for Communicating
A person with early-stage dementia or Alzheimer's may have trouble finding the right words.
As dementia gets worse, so do problems with words and thinking. A person may say things that don't make sense. They may also have trouble knowing what others are saying.
When dementia is severe, a person can't communicate with words and may not be able to answer yes/no questions with gestures. When this is the case, it's a person's behavior that hints at their needs and feelings. You may find that the best ways to communicate are with your presence, touch, and tone of voice.
Communicating with a person who has Alzheimer's disease or another dementia can be very challenging. Changing your approach to the way you communicate may be helpful.
Sometimes a person may not respond to you because he or she cannot hear you. Not being able to see well may make the person more confused, agitated, or withdrawn. If you suspect a problem, have a health professional evaluate the person's hearing and vision.
Offer reassurance, and try to distract the person or focus his or her attention on something else. Do not confront the person about his or her denial of the disease.
Present only one idea at a time. And avoid talking about abstract concepts.
Break tasks and instructions into clear, simple steps, offered one step at a time.
Be calm and supportive. A person with dementia is still aware of emotions and may become upset upon sensing anger or irritation in your voice.
This shows that you are listening. Touch may be better understood than words. Holding the person's hand or putting an arm around his or her shoulder may get through when nothing else can.
This can give you clues as to what the person is feeling. Sometimes the emotion is more important than what is said.
Let the person select his or her clothing, activities, and foods. But too many choices can be overwhelming. Offer a choice of 2 to 3 options, not the whole range of possibilities.
Current as of:
June 16, 2021
Author: Healthwise StaffMedical Review: Anne C. Poinier MD - Internal MedicineKathleen Romito MD - Family MedicineMyron F. Weiner MD - Psychiatry, Neurology
Current as of: June 16, 2021
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Anne C. Poinier MD - Internal Medicine & Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine & Myron F. Weiner MD - Psychiatry, Neurology
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