Communication issues & Dementia

A few words of some Knowledge

I attend 2 support groups meetings each month to help me deal with my 89 yr. old mom's dementia. As this disease progresses it becomes more and more difficult for her as well as myself.

There are always changes and you have to re-learn how to accept and how to deal with them.

This month the group talked about communication with your loved ones with dementia. It was quite interesting and was a big help to me and I just wanted to pass along some of what it taught me...

As dementia progresses they find it more and more difficult to express themselves clearly and also to understand what others say. It can so very frustrating and difficult for both the person with the dementia and the family/caregiver.

One of the first things is make sure the problem isn't connected with vision or hearing. And even then, like for my mom she kept losing her glasses and eventually didn't even know what they were for. Also she, at a point, refused to wear her hearing aide.

Each person with dementia is unique and the difficulties in communicating thoughts and feelings are so different. It effects each persons brain in a different can be difficult to say the least.

Here is a small list provided at the meeting of things that you may notice...

* They may have difficulty in finding a word. A related word may be given instead of one they cannot remember.

* They may talk fluently, but not make sense.

* They may not be able to understand what you are saying or may only be able to grasp- part of it.

* Writing and reading skill may deteriorate.

*They may lose their normal conventions of conversation and interrupt or even ignore a speaker or fail to respond when spoken to.

* They may have difficulty in expressing emotions appropriately. ...and I must add,my mom has all these problems, very much so. At this last meeting I learned that communication is made up of three parts:

* 55 % is body language, which is the message we give out by our facial expression, posture and gestures.

* 38 % is the tone and pitch of our voice

* 7% is the words we use.

This was amazing to me and so I asked who this test was performed on? and the answer was just normal everyday people. you see it is so important to remember their feelings and emotions even though they may not totally understand what is being said. Also allow enough time for a response, they sometimes have a hard time when you say too many words, so use as few words as possible, hand motions help, looking directly in their eyes and no sudden moves without an explanation. Warn them what is happening next and allow them the time to absorb this.

Touch is a wonderful way to keep the persons attention and to communicate feelings of warmth and affection. We hold hands as we walk to the car or where ever we are going. She often rubs my leg whilst we drive around and sometimes she is crying happy tears, she tells me, cause I take her out into the world and the sunshine and we go to the river and listen to the sounds, or we go to the park and watch the young children playing. She won't get out of the car anymore, is content to just sit and absorb life from afar...and I am aware that even this will end :O(

It is also important to remain calm and talk in gentle, matter-of-fact ways. To try to keep your sentences short and simple, and focus on one idea at a time. Remembering to allow plenty of time for what you have said to be understood. And even then, mom sometimes doesn't understand...always smile and be cheerful cause they pick up on feelings...

The right environment is also a good thing to be aware of, like avoid competing noises, such as TV or radio ( I can't have the car radio on anymore). Also stay still while you are talking, it is easier for the person to follow what you are saying, many read your lips.

Try to maintain a routine, this is a way to help minimize confusion, for all family members and/or caregivers.

And then finally What NOT to do... (well please try not gets difficult at times and is why I attend support groups offered by the Alzheimer's Organization.)

* don't argue with the person, they just can't put it together anymore.

* don't order your loved one around.

* don't tell them what they can and can't do, instead state what they can do.

* don't be condescending, it can be picked up in your voice, even if the words aren't understood.

* don't ask a lot of direct questions that rely on a good memory.

* don't talk about people in front of them as if they are not there.

I have done them all in the course of my learning and have found it is wise to try very hard to remember this each time we are together...She surely picks up on my mood and it can and has changed hers. So I am very careful and just hope maybe some of this writing helps anyone else going through the same things as I am.

They are so much back into childness and must be treated gently, caringly and Lovingly and just one more thing:

Losing the ability to communicate can be frustrating and difficult for the people with dementia, their families and carers. So positive communication can help maintain their dignity and self-esteem. A caring attitude and proper body language and last but not least, be flexible and allow plenty of time for a response...

who knows when we may be next??? :O) Hugs

Comments 55 comments

Hawkesdream profile image

Hawkesdream 7 years ago from Cornwall

G-ma, this is ,without a doubt, one of the most caring and thoughtful hub, that I have read, it is a testament to your love for your mother. Wish you both well.

IslandVoice profile image

IslandVoice 7 years ago from Hawaii

I really appreciate this G-Ma. We have a loved one who is showing signs of this condition and i have experienced him panic on occassions. He even cried with frustration, and i had to calm him with assurances by saying 'everyone forgets'. But, as a family we know we have to be prepared when things really deteriorate. God bless you. What a valuable hub, and these are truly precious!

Candie V profile image

Candie V 7 years ago from Whereever there's wolves!! And Bikers!! Cummon Flash, We need an adventure!

Thank you G-ma! This is one of the toughest medical conditions out there. It's painful to watch someone's life slip away so slowly, ravenges all the things that make them special. I went to a nursing home recently to work on a lady with dementia. Her son came in. It was incredibly lovely to watch him interact with her. I asked him to tell about her, the woman she once was. He said she had a beautiful flower garden and used to love to dance. He was holding her hand. When he said 'flowers' and 'dance' her face lit up. You could tell those words she understood.

G-Ma Johnson profile image

G-Ma Johnson 7 years ago from NW in the land of the Free Author are a dear and I am just trying to be of some help, cause many people just don't understand dementia and there is a lot to it. I research a lot so I can be a better person around my mom...It is so sad to watch and know it does not improve...Thanks for your kind words...:O) Hugs

G-Ma Johnson profile image

G-Ma Johnson 7 years ago from NW in the land of the Free Author

IslandVoice...well my dear I hope it helps but be sure you get on-line and research so it is easier for you as well as him. Alzheimer Organization is so helpful they even have a chat line...I am there often...and Thank you for your comment and God Bless and if ever a question I may be able to help, feel free to contact me...:O) Hugs

G-Ma Johnson profile image

G-Ma Johnson 7 years ago from NW in the land of the Free Author

CandieV...Yes it is simple and plain, yet so involved.  It is harder each time I go see her, which is 3-4 times a week...but she is a happy lady and so far not aggressive and is totally in her own world, everyone there likes her and the home she is in only has 32 residents at the most, so is a family like home. 

They are one of the two best in this state and I am so lucky to have her there.  God has been my guide all through this and all goes well...when I Listen :O) So is time now to get ready to spend this day with her(well 4 whole hrs of it) about all she can take...

Hey thought you were gonna be here 40 + said.... for Happy Hour...LOL  :O) Hugs

Candie V profile image

Candie V 7 years ago from Whereever there's wolves!! And Bikers!! Cummon Flash, We need an adventure!

Soon!! I promise!!

Frieda Babbley profile image

Frieda Babbley 7 years ago from Saint Louis, MO

Love the profile pic, G-Ma!

My mother was the sole caregiver of her mother who's dementia got worse and worse over the three years it took over her life. It was the most dificult thing in the world for my mom to deal with. It would have been wonderful if she had had a support group like you're in to go to. Because of her experiences and others who share theirs, I hope that if my mother goes through it, I'll be better able to take care of her. Many hugs of strength to you, g-ma. Many many hugs.

VioletSun profile image

VioletSun 7 years ago from Oregon/ Name: Marie

G-Ma: You are such a beautiful daughter, your mother is blessed to have you!

This is a wealth of information for caregivers who have loved ones with dementia; wish I had read this when dealing with my Mom who had this condition. And as for the communication tips, wow, I do this, meaning, I am hearing impaired, and rely on body language, even tone of voice, intuition, and read lips to help me communicate, I learned this instinctively.

G-Ma Johnson profile image

G-Ma Johnson 7 years ago from NW in the land of the Free Author

Freida...:O) Thanks for the profile like!!!it was actually a request hee hee...and am sorry you weren't able (well your mom) to have the resources available today because I would be lost without the support they give and so much more is being learned everyday...which is wonderful...but is still hard to deal with when it is really happening and I understand more everyday as she forgets more each God Help us...Thanks for the comment my dear :O) Hugs

G-Ma Johnson profile image

G-Ma Johnson 7 years ago from NW in the land of the Free Author

VioletSun...also thank you for such a compliment and I am just glad the Lord has made things possible for me to be able to care for her,though she is in a home, I still see her often as it is only 10 min. away.

...and am sorry about your mom, as I will one day be there too, meaning without mine...I see it coming...and am glad to hear that this information was right on, which I was sure it was,but nice to know you fully got it :O) I am sure you could advise me well...Thanks for commenting my dear...:O) Hugs

frogyfish profile image

frogyfish 7 years ago from Central United States of America

G-ma, this is so caring, and the points are valuable information. I do have two relatives showing these downward signs and it is so scary. Thanks for your words and info.

G-Ma Johnson profile image

G-Ma Johnson 7 years ago from NW in the land of the Free Author

frogyfish...glad if it helps and always research and keep up-dated or ask me questions and I can try to help...has been a long 5 yrs. thanks for commenting and God Bless :O) Hugs

Gypsy Willow profile image

Gypsy Willow 7 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand

Thank you for this hub. Caring for people with dementia is very trying and these hints will help.

Feline Prophet profile image

Feline Prophet 7 years ago from India

Like you said G-Ma, we may be next. Caring for someone who has lost the ability to communicate is a scary situation and you handle it with such grace. :)

cindyvine profile image

cindyvine 7 years ago from Cape Town

Really good advice G-Ma, I worked night shifts in a dementia care Unit for 9 months and it was one of the saddest experiences of my life. Had this old guy Bill, that used to go into people's rooms, open their chest of drawers and wee in it. Had others that messed with their poo, and would start doing the strip in the lounge. Very very sad, and every now and then, the real sane person would show a glimpse of what they used to be like.

G-Ma Johnson profile image

G-Ma Johnson 7 years ago from NW in the land of the Free Author

cindyvine...yes is a tough job to have also...I see the different girls and guys all the time...come and go...although there are many there that have been for 5 ( the caregivers) and are so very dedicated...I try to take them some treats once a month...

the residents do forget and are just like almost babies is tough...Thanks for commenting...:O) Hugs

GiftedGrandma profile image

GiftedGrandma 7 years ago from USA

G-Ma thank you for a wonderful description of helping to understand such difficult subject. I pray if my mother of age 85 gets it we will be blessed with the patience to help her. I am just praying she is around when we relocate back to our home state.

G-Ma Johnson profile image

G-Ma Johnson 7 years ago from NW in the land of the Free Author

GiftedGrandma...Well my dear people of all ages get this disease so if she is 85 already maybe she is one of those that won't....It can and cannot be hereditary...and also, if say,... I have it doesn't mean my sister will....My mom has had it now at least 5-6 yrs....denial is the first step...just be aware of the signs...forgettfulness,un-usual confusion...anyway thanks for commenting and God Bless...:O) Hugs

kookie_lover profile image

kookie_lover 7 years ago from arizona

oh my god i love thiz!!!!!........

profile image

Pachuca213 7 years ago

Thank you for this grandpa suffered from dimentia shortly before he died. It was so sad. this is a good hub with great information on such a devastating illness. And I agree about the childness they return to, my eldest son was grandpas pride and joy and he was the only who could get through to him and just the sight of my son helped grandpa be receptive. I miss him so much...his name was Grandpa Johnson =)

goldentoad profile image

goldentoad 7 years ago from Free and running....

this is a very touching hub G-Ma. I saw my grandpa slip into dimentia in his last years. It was rough seeing the man I looked up to not be able to do anything anymore considering how macho he carried himself all his life. Stay strong G-ma and you know we're all here for you too. big hugs and I hope you found a way to smile tonight *wink*.

G-Ma Johnson profile image

G-Ma Johnson 7 years ago from NW in the land of the Free Author

wow really?? I had a in-law Grandpa Johnson from sorry to hear you suffered that but am so glad your son made the connection...cause it is so important and am sure it made your G-Pa is very difficult...and sad and hard to accept...but today we know more about it and so it makes it better to understand...I work on it everyday/ my mom is so special even though we had our bad times..I love her dearly and only GOD knows how much...thanks for commenting...:O) hugs

Laughing Mom profile image

Laughing Mom 7 years ago

I'd say G-ma, you're very lucky to have found a support group that give you so much good information. We didn't have any of that and just went with our instincts, which sadly, were not always right. I can remember how difficult it was to watch my Grandma try to tell me something and not be able to find the right word. She would get so frustrated with herself. I would want to help her so badly, but I knew that that would only make her feel worse.

I've told you this a thousand times before, but I mean it every time. Your mom is so blessed to have you, and you to have her.

Now I think I have to go dig the peanut butter out of the pantry and find another box of kleenex.

profile image

SirDent 7 years ago

It didn't surprise me that body language was a big part of conversing, but I didn't think it was such a huge part. As you know GMa., my mother in law has alzheimers and is showing many of the signs of dementia. This hub will help me in dealing with her on a daily basisi and understanding how to help her most.

Christoph Reilly profile image

Christoph Reilly 7 years ago from St. Louis

I am fortunate that I have never had to deal with this sad problem. If I ever find myself in this position, I will remember your excellent advice!

G-Ma Johnson profile image

G-Ma Johnson 7 years ago from NW in the land of the Free Author

Oh my sweet did fine there is NO doubt about that and don't ever think there are a wonderful, caring loving person as is your mom and you did more than most will do. I have family coming here to be soo special... but they do not see the everyday, every emotion, thanks for commenting my dear :O) Hugs

dianacharles profile image

dianacharles 7 years ago from India

Thanks for such an insightful, touching hub G-Ma.I do hope I will never need all these invaluable tips with members of my family. I am all teary.

AdeleCosgroveBray profile image

AdeleCosgroveBray 7 years ago from Wirral, Cheshire, England.

Hello, G-Ma Johnson, and thank you for sharing this insightful Hub. My father had both Parkinson's and Alzheimer's, and his descent into these illnesses was gruelling both for him and those around him. Here's hoping improvements in treatment continue to develop.

G-Ma Johnson profile image

G-Ma Johnson 7 years ago from NW in the land of the Free Author

I have 4 teen age grandsons this week so am sorry I don't have time to be to detailed in my answers but THANK YOU all for commenting..

GT..Yes especiallyfor a strong man I watch this everyday...Is so sad for you I am sure..I roared...I Love You John..... are a little angel..and i know your G_MA was very lucky to have you...Love you so...

SIRDENT...yes my dear and it gets tougher so please try to research and I am always around if I can help...

CHRISTOPH... well there is never a guarantee but is good to be informed...

DIANA...I hope so too but just being aware helps to understand others who do suffer with this...

ADELE...Yes combined with other things makes it even tougher...and I am lucky my mom is pretty healthy otherwise...

:O) :O) :O) THANK YOU ALL FOR COMMENTING..... gotta run G-Ma

profile image

\Brenda Scully 7 years ago

hiya..... dont know why it has taken me so long to find you in here.  I have always worked with dementia patients, and have attended lots of courses about the same.... however in my opinion, nothing is more helpful to a patient that their own family understand and share in the care giving.I wish more courses like this open to everyone.... Your mum is obviously a very special lody, and all the better for having a special daughter to support her.... Brendaxx

G-Ma Johnson profile image

G-Ma Johnson 7 years ago from NW in the land of the Free Author

Thank you for commenting...and finally there seems to be more and more understanding these is a serious disease and effects the younger people also...Seems; there is too much lack of real exercise and the brain needs to be challenged everyday...although there is no certain known way , as yet, to prevent this...

So best we can do is be understanding and patient and Pray...:O) Hugs

RGraf profile image

RGraf 7 years ago from Wisconsin

My mother has started forgetting things that are momentous events in the family. She cannot remember names that were important to us unless she sees them on an everyday basis. She gets very angry because she thinks that I am making it all up.

G-Ma Johnson profile image

G-Ma Johnson 7 years ago from NW in the land of the Free Author

RGraf...Yes it is very difficult for them to except the fact they are forgetting, but it is the beginning and the more YOU understand it, the easier it will be...there are many stages old is she?  a good place to start is www.alzheimer'

There are a couple   of good books "The 36 Hour Day" or "Dancing with Rose" you might want to check into...

Thank you for commenting.

My prayers and If I can help I am here....:O) Hugs

Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 7 years ago from Houston, Texas

We have been there with my husband's grandmother and I'm afraid we are starting to be confronted with it again. Am paying close attention to what you say and I have also consulted the Alzheimer's links.......Web Dr. MD, etc. Have not yet read those books you recommended. We simply take it a day at a time.

Bless you and your mother and here are some extra hugs.

Cris A profile image

Cris A 7 years ago from Manila, Philippines


And the most important thing to remember is that dealing with your loved one's dementia is a big heart - which you have. Sometimes communication is not the words said, or the actions expressed but the feelings that you feel which transcends silence. Thanks for sharing. Lurve ya bigtime :D

profile image

IĆ°unn 7 years ago

very useful hub, g=ma ((g ma)). my thoughts are with you. my father had this for several years before he passed away.

G-Ma Johnson profile image

G-Ma Johnson 7 years ago from NW in the land of the Free Author

Peggy W...It is a sad thing and very hard to live with... but just remember there is help now a days and the more you understand it the better able you are to make their lives easier...God be with You and HUGS back :O) G-Ma

G-Ma Johnson profile image

G-Ma Johnson 7 years ago from NW in the land of the Free Author

Cris A...That is absolutely right..."Silence is Golden" and they feel everything though maybe they can't express it anymore...I know I see it with mom all the I smile and answer the best I can...I Lurve you BIGGER TIME :O) Hugs

G-Ma Johnson profile image

G-Ma Johnson 7 years ago from NW in the land of the Free Author

idunn...Am sorry to hear that and it seems more and more common these days ...though people live longer and it used to be called maybe it is normal...anything to sell drugs...and they are super expensive for Alzheimer's...although there are some young people who get it (so they say) I am no doctor just a daughter trying to help her mom make it through as painlessly as possible...Thanks for commenting :O) Hugs

Dolores Monet profile image

Dolores Monet 7 years ago from East Coast, United States

Gma, this brought tears to my eyes. God bless you and your mom, it sounds like you have a diffiuclt situation well in hand and are making the best of it and actually enjoying the company of your mother. I am sure that you lose your patience once in a while, but I bet when you were a cute little tacker, your lovely mom lost patience with you, once in a while. Hugs to you gma.

G-Ma Johnson profile image

G-Ma Johnson 7 years ago from NW in the land of the Free Author

Dolores...yes of course she is just stranger when it is reversed in this manner...and God is my guide...Thanks for commenting :O) Hugs

no body profile image

no body 7 years ago from Rochester, New York

Hi Ma. It is so scary that anyone can lose their abilities like that. I'm sorry you have this burden. It was a great hub with lots of solid info. Your mom is blessed to have a daughter like you. Hugs.

G-Ma Johnson profile image

G-Ma Johnson 7 years ago from NW in the land of the Free Author

no body...Thank you dear..God has His reason's I just need to listen carefully and follow His lead...difficult sometimes though :O) Hugs

no body profile image

no body 7 years ago from Rochester, New York

I will pray for you Ma. Keep your chin up.

G-Ma Johnson profile image

G-Ma Johnson 7 years ago from NW in the land of the Free Author

Thank you dear...I gladly except all PRAYERS...mIne for you also...:O) Hugs

Tatjana-Mihaela profile image

Tatjana-Mihaela 7 years ago from Zadar, CROATIA

So usefull Hub. Be brave! Many hugs.

G-Ma Johnson profile image

G-Ma Johnson 7 years ago from NW in the land of the Free Author doing my best...:O) Hugs

Jerilee Wei profile image

Jerilee Wei 7 years ago from United States

I would say I can't imagine what you are going through, but I do because my husband is in the beginning stages of this terrible robber of dreams.  The fact that you can be so courageous and share both what it is like while trying to help others on this journey, make you one very special woman.  Your suggestions were a gift I cannot repay. Many hugs!

G-Ma Johnson profile image

G-Ma Johnson 7 years ago from NW in the land of the Free Author

Jerilee am so sorry and is a tough journey for all invovled. I am with her today, well on my way, and if I can help at all let me know...I don't know it all but I have been dealing with it now for over 3.5 yrs., but she has it now for around 7...Denial is the first part...and exceptance takes longer. Seek help cause it does help...I do...My Prayers sweetie...:O) Hugs

ripplemaker profile image

ripplemaker 7 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

Hi G-Ma, I admire you constantly for the love that allows you to go through life's challenges. Your sharing is very helpful as I reflect on my own life and what I can do for others too. Thank you. Be blessed always...

G-Ma Johnson profile image

G-Ma Johnson 7 years ago from NW in the land of the Free Author

ripplemaker....Thank you my dear am always glad to hear from I have several times this are such a wonderful lady...God Bless...:O) Hugs

DeBorrah K. Ogans profile image

DeBorrah K. Ogans 7 years ago

I enjoyed this hub. It reminded of what I call saying "A slow Goodbye to Mom." Thank you for sharing this helpful information. Blessings

G-Ma Johnson profile image

G-Ma Johnson 7 years ago from NW in the land of the Free Author

DeB...sure, welcome my dear... glad it reminded you...:O) Hugs G-Ma

M van den Hout 5 years ago


I would like to draw attention to our new app, called iPicto, for iPhone, iPod Touch

and iPad.

This app is designed to guide people with a (mental) disability, with or without

dementia/alzheimer, asperger, autism and / or a disorder in communication.

This new app iPicto is also a very good tool in learning a way of communication,

for example speech difficulties.

I refer you for further information, visit the App Store.

See for it:


Thank you for attention,


Erwin van den Hout

The Netherlands

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.

    Click to Rate This Article