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5 Tips for Communicating With People Who Have Dementia

Does your loved one have dementia? If so, you’re not alone. Over 55 million people worldwide are living with dementia.

Watching a loved one struggle with dementia is painful for a variety of reasons. One of them is that communicating with people who have dementia can become challenging.

What can you do to make communication efforts a little easier for you and for your loved one? We’re here to help.

Read on for five communication tips that will help you to maintain a better relationship with a dementia patient in your life.

1. Don’t Exclude Dementia Patients from the Conversation

If you’re in the room with your loved one and talking about their care or needs, include them in the conversation. Don’t talk over them or speak about them to caregivers or medical professionals as if they are not there. It’s important to treat dementia patients with respect and let them speak their minds.

2. Take Time to Listen

Rather than interrupting your loved one or trying to finish their thoughts for them, take time to listen. It’s okay if you don’t always know how to respond to what they’re saying. Sometimes, the best support you can offer is a sympathetic ear and the space to work out a thought or feeling.

3. Avoid Correcting Language

It’s understandable that you may want to correct your loved one when they’re confused or let them know that they’re repeating themselves. However, correcting language doesn’t often lead to clarity and instead causes frustration or fear. As long as it doesn’t impede their safety, it’s okay to validate a dementia patient’s impressions of their world.

4. Ask Yes Or No Questions

Dementia patients will start to lose the ability to make certain decisions for themselves. However, there are still plenty of decisions you can allow them to make, like what to eat or what to wear. When giving dementia patients choices, ask yes or no questions (i.e. “Do you want coffee?”) rather than presenting multiple options at once.

5. Try to Understand Emotional Cues

You may start to notice aggressive behavior in elderly dementia patients. This is often borne of frustration, confusion, and the loss of less hurtful modes of expression. One way that you can deal with aggression and other verbal or nonverbal modes of communication is to try to understand the emotional cues that signify a deeper need.

Communicating With People Who Have Dementia Takes Patience

Above all, communicating with people who have dementia will require patience. When you feel like you’re losing patience or you need space to feel your own feelings, don’t hesitate to ask for help. Working with professional caregivers is a great way to ensure your loved one’s safety while avoiding caregiver burnout.

Are you looking for more ways that you can take a holistic approach to your own or someone else’s care? Take a look at our health content for more guides and tips that will help.

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