How to Better Communicate with a Loved One who has Dementia

How to Better Communicate with a Loved One who has Dementia

A medical professional assisting your loved ones in their day to day lives

May 23, 2022

It’s never easy to see someone you love struggle with a disease, and with dementia affecting a person’s ability to remember certain facts, dates, places or even the names of the people they love—it can be especially difficult for everyone involved. At Heather Glen Senior Living, our team of professionals have worked for years helping a number of individuals with this illness, and we have a few different ways you can improve your communication with your loved ones when they have dementia. 

Always encourage communication

Whether you are taking care of someone with dementia or visiting one of your loved ones with dementia, you’ll find that you are more commonly having to start the conversation instead of them—this fact becomes more normal as the illness continues to progress. Although it might not seem like much, always taking the initiative to start the conversation is actually a big help. During each conversation, you’ll want to try your best to speak clearly and slowly so you can give your loved ones time to process your sentences before they respond. Continuing to make eye contact throughout the conversation is another great way to keep them engaged as you speak to them, and asking questions during each conversation is always encouraged. Whenever they respond, make sure you acknowledge what they have said and encourage them to continue voicing their thoughts even if what they respond was not necessarily about the topic you were originally discussing. 

Physical contact is just as important

There are also a number of physical gestures or facial expressions that you can use when speaking with someone with dementia to help encourage the conversation even when you’re not the one speaking. Body language says a lot about the way the conversation is going, so it’s important to keep that in mind as you’re sitting with your loved one. If they are having any difficulty finishing one of their thoughts, stay calm and keep eye contact with them with a smile on your face to show that you are still listening. This will help put them even more at ease and could help them communicate better with you as the conversation continues. Take their comfort levels into consideration as well throughout the conversation. Sometimes, holding a person’s hand or patting them on the hand is a way to show comfort—but if they seem tense, keep a distance during the rest of the conversation to put them at ease. 

Let our team help you and your loved ones

At Heather Glen Senior Living, we understand how overwhelming it can sometimes be for the caregivers who are taking care of their loved ones without any additional help—and that’s why we work day in and day out so you can rest assured that your loved ones are being taken care of. If you’d like to schedule your own visit, fill out our online form or give us a call today at (610) 841-4478.

Ask Kim & Jessica