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What to Say to Someone with Dementia or Alzheimer’s

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There is no manual for how to deal with a loved one’s dementia diagnosis. As the disease progresses, you might feel more and more helpless. This is common and you’re not alone. As you see your loved one’s forgetfulness become worse over time, there are strategies you can use to continue connecting with them in a meaningful way. You just have to get a little creative.

5 Dementia and Communication Strategies

At every stage of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, being able to connect with your loved one is the most important thing you can focus your attention on. Not only can this help to keep you from thinking about the negative side effects of the disease, but it can help your loved one find fulfillment despite what has been lost from dementia.

Try these 5 communication strategies when you’re trying to think of what to say to someone with dementia:

  1. Avoid Distractions – If that means leaving your phone in the car, leaving your kids at home, or finding a quiet place to start a conversation, the fewer distractions that are present, the better. Not only does this let you maximize the time you spend with your loved one, but removing distractions can also help your loved one focus all of their mental energy on the conversation at-hand.
  2. Speak Clearly and With Purpose – Avoid using baby talk or speaking down to your loved one with dementia or Alzheimer’s. Instead, try focusing the conversation by using simple language that is direct and clear.
  3. Refer to Things and People by Name – Don’t assume your loved one remembers past conversations you had. Use people’s names when telling stories and don’t be afraid to tell the same story more than once. Especially if you find a topic that seems to capture their attention and interest, feel free to bring it up often and add new details. Your loved one needs these reminders and cues to help them focus their energy.
  4. Be a Good Listener – Don’t feel like you need to do all the talking. Let your loved one share what’s on their mind, even if it doesn’t always make sense. Listen actively and don’t try to correct them every time they make a mistake. It’s ok if they don’t get everything right, that’s not the purpose of your time together.
  5. Be Patient – This isn’t always easy, especially when you are desperately trying to connect with your loved one and it’s not working. Just remember that your presence is important. Give them time to process what you’re telling them, repeat yourself if needed, and do your best not to get frustrated.

The most important thing to remember in terms of dementia and communication strategies is that there will always be good and bad days. Over time there will probably be more downs than ups, but it is worth your time and effort to enjoy the good days.

Find the Support You Need as a Caregiver at Peregrine Senior Living

At Peregrine Senior Living, our approach to Alzheimer’s and dementia care is unique to only our campuses. We are doing everything we can to transform the expectations of the aging process through unparalleled memory support. We focus on helping residents through every stage of dementia find personal growth and fulfillment. Learn more about how we can help improve the quality of life for your loved one, while also offering you the support you need as a caregiver. Contact us today.

Written by
Stephen Sarsfield Bowman

More Articles By
Stephen Sarsfield Bowman

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