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5 Communicating Techniques Caring For Dementia Patients

Updated on June 12, 2013

Be Aware Of Your Tone

Effective Communication Techniques

Because a person can live a long time with dementia, it's very important for family members who care for them, or staffs that work in nursing homes to learn different techniques in communication as the years go by.

At first communication will be no big problem, but as time goes by and dementia progresses you will need different ways to communicate with the person. Always remember communication is between two people so having patience and being good listener will help ease stress.

Here are 5 great communication techniques that can help you as dementia progresses:

1. Address the person by name. If it's a parent that has dementia, it can be strange calling them by their first name instead of mom/dad. Just keep in mind that as dementia gets worse they pretty much won't have no idea who you are at times. What I discover being a caregiver for two family members, including my dad, was how well they still remembered their name. If I would say dad do this or that, it seems that it didn't register most time. When I started calling him by name, he would actually look my way which opened the doors up for communication.

2.Only make one statement, or ask one question at a time. Processing information is the main thing dementia takes away from a person.A lot of times when we are talking to them they get into a confused state of mind. One of the reason is they are trying to process information and it's just not happening.By making things simple for them can increase the chances of getting things done. For example, "Robert bring me the photo album", That is a simple statement for them to follow. But if you were to say, "Robert bring me the photo album, and come sit down.", you have just given them two things to process, so they just stand there trying to figure out what it is you said. So make quick one step statements for the to follow allows them to process better.

3.Allowing them enough time to respond.It can take up to a minute for a person to respond to a question.By having patience and giving the person time to hear your words and prepare a response can keep down a lot of frustration on both ends.After a couple minutes,if the person has not responded,calmly repeat your question and allow time to respond. If this does not work, try asking the question differently.

4.Do not argue or correct the person. The only thing that could come from arguing or correcting a person with severe dementia is a lot of stress and frustration.Most times it's caregivers that make problems when there problem. For example, If you have just bathe the person and you have put out a blue shirt for them to put on, but they put back on the yellow shirt from yesterday is this really a problem?No it's not, but because you want them with the blue shirt, you begin arguing with them that they had on the yellow shirt yesterday.Learn to pick your battles!

5.Focus on feelings, not facts. What a person with dementia believes is how things appear to them.If it's not hurting them or anyone around them why try to change it just to prove them wrong.For example, if they are having a bad morning and you are trying to get them to bathe, but they insist that they already have, would it hurt if they went one day without a bath? If you feel strongly about it, maybe coming back at a later time would make things easier.Just remember we have to be flexible when caring for someone that has this disability.

By using these 5 simple communication techniques you may be able to cut down on stress and frustration.


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    • kiddiecreations profile image

      Nicole Kiddie Granath 2 weeks ago

      Thank you for your tips. I totally agree! Especially with the tip about not arguing. We are living with my grandpa, and he has moderate dementia. I told him we had been to Indiana a few years back as a family to visit relatives. He told me I was crazy and that I had never been to Indiana before. Rather than argue, I just made a joke and changed the subject. I'm finding that it's best not to argue with his version of reality.

    • peachpurple profile image

      peachy 4 years ago from Home Sweet Home

      Thanks very much

    • dementiacaregiver profile image

      dementiacaregiver 4 years ago

      Thanks peachpurple for your comment. Vascular dementia or as some people refer to it as multi infarct-dementia causes a cognitive decline that is associated with a stroke. Because there are so many different dementias, it's best to find out from a neuro specialist which one,if any, does she have to be properly treated.Depression after a stroke can cause dementia,which could be reversible, so get a test done to see if she has some form of dementia.Hope this helps.

    • peachpurple profile image

      peachy 4 years ago from Home Sweet Home

      wonderful tips. My mom had stroke and she can't remember the current things going on but she can remember the past, before the stroke. She can remember her name, our family members name but she can't remember when the current/recent event that took place. Is that dementia?