These tips for communicating with someone with dementia can improve the relationship between the caregiver and care recipient, and lead to better quality of care.
- Face the care recipient directly, maintain eye contact while communicating, and attract her/his attention before beginning.
- Be at the care recipient’s eye level. If the person is standing, you should be standing, and if the person is sitting, you need to be sitting.
- Orient the care recipient frequently. Provide frequent cues about who, what, when, where, and why.
- Provide continuity by continuing on the same topic without changing focus too often. If the topic is going to change, provide orientation.
- Try to help the care recipient find the words that s/he may be “stuck” on trying to remember.
- Simplify your instructions to only one or two topics. Keep sentences short, simple and direct. Repeat nouns rather than using pronouns.
- Try to ask easy questions. If there are choices, limit the number of choices to two if possible.
- Use pleasant facial expressions and tone of voice, pictures, hand signals, and pantomime to convey your message.
- Give the care recipient time to respond. Offer clues about how the person can answer the question if necessary.
- Remember that good communication is a two-way exchange. If the care recipient is having difficulty holding up her/his part of the conversation, try to help her/him to participate.
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