How to talk to someone who has dementia

How to talk to someone who has dementia

Our Admiral Nurse, Chrissy Hussey, gives her advice on communicating with someone who has dementia.

We all need company and conversation. That doesn’t change with dementia. However, you may need to change how you talk to someone who has dementia, to make it easier for them to process what you’re saying.

  1. Short, simple, precise and concise is my mantra when attempting to talk with someone who has dementia. Remember, in this instance, less is certainly more.
  2. Try to be at the same height as the person. If they’re sitting down, you should try to sit down as well.
  3. Maintain eye contact, making sure you have their attention.
  4. Think of your tone of voice. Smiling when you talk lightens your tone. Talk slower than normal and with a good volume.
  5. Don’t overload the person with too much information or detail, as their processing skills are often diminished.
  6. Restrict choices to two or three items so that the person doesn’t feel overwhelmed. So, you might ask ‘Would you like a ham sandwich or a cheese sandwich?’ rather than ‘What would you like for lunch?’

Patience is key. When asking a question, wait for the answer. If it becomes clear that the person is not going to answer, repeat your question in the same way using the same words.