Communicating with a dementia patient

Communicating with someone who has Dementia

Dementia gradually affects a person’s ability to communicate.  In the early stages people may have difficulty finding the right words – particularly the names of objects.  They may use the wrong words or have difficulty finding the word at all.   This can be very frustrating for both the person with dementia and those around them.

  1. Try and approach the person from the front. 
  2. The person may respond better if addressed formally such as “Mr White” or “Mrs Green” rather than using their forename when you first meet.
  3. Minimise distractions such as the TV and radio and speak in a quiet area if possible.
  4. Maintain eye contact. Sit down with your patient when talking to them as talking down to someone can be intimidating.
  5. Use short and simple sentences. 
  6. Be patient.  People with dementia can take longer to process information so don’t hurry them for a response. Give them time and wait for a response.  Repeat the question if necessary.
  7. Try to avoid arguing or contradicting even if the person says something you know isn’t true.  At times people with dementia can become confused and may say something that they believe fits the conversation – they are not doing this to be deceptive and arguing will confuse them further and can be distressing.