Dementia-Friendly Communication Tips

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[x_section style="margin: 0px 0px 0px 0px; padding: 45px 0px 45px 0px; "][x_row inner_container="true" marginless_columns="false" bg_color="" style="margin: 0px auto 0px auto; padding: 0px 0px 0px 0px; "][x_column bg_color="" type="1/1" class="left-text " style="padding: 0px 0px 0px 0px; "][x_text class="center-text "]People with Alzheimer's and other dementias find communication difficult; both in their effort to express thoughts and in their ability to understand others. Go into a conversation with a better understanding of how to make it more comfortable for them as well as yourself.[/x_text][/x_column][/x_row][/x_section][x_section style="margin: 0px 0px 0px 0px; padding: 45px 0px 45px 0px; "][x_row inner_container="true" marginless_columns="false" bg_color="" style="margin: 0px auto 0px auto; padding: 0px 0px 0px 0px; "][x_column bg_color="" type="1/1" style="padding: 0px 0px 0px 0px; "][x_text]• Don’t ask questions about past events.
This may make them feel as though they’re being quizzed. Even things like “what did you eat for lunch” often present difficult recollection and may make them feel uncomfortable. Let them bring up a favorable memory, often it will be from many years earlier.

• Do inquire about their current comfort level.
The here and now, make sure they feel safe, secure and comfortable.

• Limit distractions.
Find a place that's quiet. The surroundings should support the person's ability to focus on his or her thoughts.

• Be patient and supportive.
Let the person know you're listening. Show them you care about what they’re saying and be careful not to interrupt.

• Offer reassurance.
If he or she is having trouble communicating, let the person know that it’s okay. Encourage the person to continue to explain his or her thoughts.

• Encourage unspoken communication.

If you don't understand what is being said, ask the person to point or gesture.

• Focus on feelings, not facts.
Sometimes the emotions being expressed are more important than what is being said. Look for the feelings behind the words. At times, tone of voice and other actions may provide clues.

• Avoid criticizing or correcting.

Don't tell the person what he or she is saying is incorrect. Instead, listen and try to find the meaning in what is being said. Repeat what was said if it helps to clarify the thought.

• Avoid arguing.
If the person says something you don't agree with, let it be. Arguing typically makes things worse — often heightening the level of agitation for the person with dementia.

• Let it go if the conversation doesn’t end well.
Once you leave the person, don’t dwell on whether or not you agreed with everything said. They may have said something hurtful or completely inaccurate, but in most cases it won’t even be an issue next time you’re with that person.
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