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How to communicate with a loved one who has dementia

elderly man looking worried

If you are caring for a loved one who has dementia, you may find that it is sometimes a bit of a struggle to know how to communicate with them, as it will be very different to how it was when they were of sound mind. If this is something that you have been spending a lot of time worrying about, you are sure to appreciate the tips that we have put together. Below are some of the ways that you can improve the way you communicate with your loved one.

Make your loved one your sole focus

In order to communicate properly with your loved one, you should ensure that they are the only thing you are focusing on during the conversation. Try not to juggle the conversation with using your phone or doing housework for example, and the added attention should help.

Say their name regularly throughout

Often, dementia patients can be confused about who is being spoken to, and sometimes even what their name is, and for this reason you should try to use their name as much as you can, so that they are certain that you are speaking to them. It can also help to regain their attention if you have lost it during the conversation.

Speak slowly and clearly

Although you may often feel as though you need to have a conversation quickly, if you are talking to a loved one who has dementia this may not be the best thing to do. Instead, you should speak slowly, and give them plenty of time to think about what you’re saying before you prompt them for an answer. This can help to focus their attention and allow them to understand the information properly, so patience is key.

Try using photos instead of just words

If you are asking your loved one a question, for example whether they would like a cup of tea, you may find that they’re not sure about what they’re being asked about. To help with this, you could use photos of the items you’re talking about, as this might help them to see what you are asking without having to understand the actual words. This can help to take the pressure away if your loved one struggles with comprehension, so you may find that this helps a lot.

Ensure that you don’t argue with your loved one

When you are talking to a loved one who has dementia, you may find that it is frustrating because they may say things that you don’t agree with, or get things wrong when recalling events that happened in the past. If this happens, it can be tempting to try to correct them and make them understand what really happened – however this can be counterproductive, and can just cause a huge amount of frustration for both you and your loved one. Therefore, unless you need to correct your loved one for the good of their own safety, you should try to simply go along with what they say, and let them get across what they want to say in their own words.

Although you may find that it is a struggle to talk to your loved one if they have dementia, there is no need to be overly concerned, as there are plenty of things that you can do to help you communicate with them. By putting these tips into place, you should find that your communication is much more rewarding, and allows you to lower the amount of frustration you feel – so there is no doubt that the tips above are worth thinking about.

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