Top Practical Tips on Communicating with a Person with Dementia

Caring for someone who has dementia is a uniquely stressful experience. The person may be forgetful, engage in bizarre behavior, have trouble speaking, become incontinent, fall, and have trouble eating, dressing, or bathing. He or she may even forget who you are — which can be particularly distressing for family members.

Caregivers and family members can experience various frustrations and pains along the way to the profound and obvious decline and deficit that often comes with a diagnosis of dementia, with quite a lot of trial and error while figuring out how to adjust to the constantly-changing “new normal” of dementia.

While caregivers have both practical and emotional work to do to fully prepare to care for others who have dementia, one common question underscores their most basic concern: “How do I communicate?”

As a practical matter, it can help immeasurably to keep a few dos and don’ts in mind when interacting with people who have dementia.

1Do communicate in the way they were accustomed to being addressed in the past.

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Remember that they are grown adults and have in many cases led highly accomplished lives, held jobs, raised children and grandchildren