Communicating with someone living with Dementia

Dementia Communication Techniques

Communicating Effectively With A Person Living With Dementia

Communicating with someone living with dementia can be difficult, but it doesn’t have to be. When someone has dementia, many things are changing in their brain and one of them is that dementia affects the temporal lobe which is the primary place where language is located. When the temporal lobe is affected by dementia, people will begin to have difficulty finding words, understanding what words mean, and also have more difficulty talking and forming words. And yet, even though people living with dementia may not be able to understand others or express themselves like they were able to before they had dementia, they are still able to communicate with us, if we know how to make some simple adjustments to how we interact. In this article we’ll discuss some dementia communication techniques to help you communicate more effectively.

Step 1 – Understand What’s Happening

The first step to effectively communicate with someone living with dementia is to understand what is happening to the brain. When someone is living with dementia they may:

  • Misremember events or people or may use the wrong name for people
  • They may misunderstand what you are saying
  • Lose every fourth word you say
  • Lose nouns
  • Lose comprehension, vocabulary
  • Lose the ability to produce speech, may misname something or someone, may use words that have no meaning to you
  • Speak in words salads (this sounds like a bunch of mixed up words)

Step 2 – Recognize Abilities

The second step is to recognize the abilities of that person.

Understanding brain change and having the skill to notice and support the abilities that people still have is extremely important to the quality of life for people living with dementia.  Therefore it will be important, if considering senior living for someone with dementia to look for communities that have specific training. Orchard at Brookhaven is a senior living community near Atlanta that has specialize training. This highly qualified staff will understand and support the abilities of people living with dementia.  These abilities of people living with dementia include:

  • Rely on visual information much more than verbal information
  • Expresses themselves in actions
  • Retain the ability to sing and pray
  • Can use social chit chat
  • May use profanity to show displeasure especially it they have never used these words
  • Know their likes and dislikes

Step 3 – Make Adjustments

The third step is to make adjustments based on their abilities.

Making adjustments based on someone’s abilities does not have to be a difficult process but it will take some practice.  The suggestions below are some easy ways to make adjustments that may make a big difference for someone living with brain change. Try practicing one of the steps listed below and practice until it feels natural.  Set a goal that you can reach before you try to do each of these steps.

  • Use less words
  • Use more visual aides
  • Slow down and give more time for the person to respond  (as the dementia progresses, give more time for a response)
  • NEVER say remember
  • Be in their field of vision
  • Help them talk about something rather than try to find the word
  • Ask them to show you what they want rather than trying to get them to find the specific word

Step 4 – Keep Providing Support

The forth step is to never give up because we can make a big difference in the lives of people living with dementia as long as we keep trying to support them.

It can be stressful being a caregiver. Orchard at Brookhaven is a new assisted living community in Atlanta that is committed to supporting people living with dementia and their caregivers. Whether you have someone living in our community or are looking for support as a caregiver in the home, our staff is here to help.