Dementia is a progressive condition that affects a person’s ability to recall common information such as names, dates and places. As this disease progresses, a person’s ability to communicate becomes increasingly challenging and difficult. Changes in responsiveness and the willingness to initiate conversation are often early indicators of the presence of this disease.
Below, you will find some helpful tips for encouraging those with dementia to communicate:
- Speak clearly and slowly, using brief sentences.
- Be interactive with the dementia patient. Establish eye contact and ask questions to encourage conversation.
- Allow ample time for their response. Pressure to answer questions only adds frustration.
- Encourage group conversation. It will help with their confidence in communicating.
- Allow those affected by dementia to speak for themselves regarding health and welfare issues. There may be a reluctance to speak up on other matters.
- Do no patronize their communication attempts or ridicule in any way.
- Acknowledge what they have said, even if the answer seems out of context. Show that you’ve heard them by asking a question that connects to their response.
- Offer simple choices for them to consider. Avoid complicated situations and conversation.
- Find alternate ways for communicating, such as rephrasing a question for the purpose of clarity.
Communication involves much more than simply speaking. Movement, gestures and facial expressions are all ways in which we communicate non-verbally. Body language and physical interaction are both significant in communicating with dementia patients.
Below are some simple suggestions for better communication:
- Communication is best when it is conducted calmly and with patience.
- Project a voice that’s positive and friendly.
- Maintain a distance that minimizes intimidation. Position yourself during conversation and interaction to not physically stand above the person with whom you’re conversing.
- Provide comfort and reassurance by initiating physical touch and gentle contact with the dementia patient.