Dementia is the term used to describe symptoms of a large group of illnesses that cause a progressive decline in a person’s functioning. It is a broad term that describes a loss of memory, intellect, social skills and usual emotional reactions. For a long time, the person may look healthy, but on the inside, their brain is not working properly.
You can help to support people affected by dementia in a variety of ways. Below are a number of tips for communicating
- Remain calm and talk in a gentle, matter of fact way
- Keep sentences short and simple
- Always allow plenty of time for what you have said to be understood
- Give the person time to speak or respond. Try not to finish their sentences or make them feel embarrassed if they lose the thread of what they are saying
- It can be helpful to use orienting names whenever you can, such as “Your son Jack”
- Try to avoid competing noises such as TV or radio
- Don’t argue. It will only make the situation worse
- Don’t tell them what they can’t do. Instead suggest what the person can do
- Don’t ask a lot of direct questions that rely on a good memory
We have created a playlist of videos to help you understand more about communicating with people living with dementia.