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Alzheimer's: Tips for Communicating with Dementia Patients

Updated on March 9, 2014

Today 5.4 million Americans are living with Alzheimer's Disease and over 15 million caregivers provide unpaid care for those affected by Alzheimer's Disease. These numers are only expected to increase as the wave of baby boomers moves into advanced age. There is no cure for Alzheimer's Disease and caring for a person with Alzheimer's Disease can be challanging and frustrating.

Communicating with Someone With Dementia

Communication with someone with dementia can be overwhelming and frustrating because dementia affects the way your communication is interpreted by your loved one as well as affect the way they express themselves. typical barriers to communication may include:

  • inability to find right words
  • constant repetition of words or phrases
  • Creating words to explain things
  • Difficulty holding a train of thought
  • Trouble organizing words logically
  • Swearing
  • Obvious slow processing of information
  • Not speaking at all or engaging slowly
  • Reliance on nonverbal ques and communication
  • Misunderstanding conversations

Tips From The Alzheimer's Association

Tips for Your Conversation

  • Slow Down- understanding that dementia affects how conversations are processed is important, slow yourself down and allow the other person extra processing time.
  • Go With It- conversations often take unusual twist and turns, do not try to redirect the conversation, let the other person finish their thought. By doing this you will avoid frustrating the person with dementia.
  • Know The Other Person and Use Word That They Use- Knowing the other person is critical in communication, often key words and phrases will help the engage or reengage in a conversation.
  • Use Props and Familiar Items to Stimulate- People with dementia may recognize objects that are familiar to them and connect these objects to activities or behaviors they are familiar with.
  • Know That You May Have to Repeat Yourself- Often conversations are circular in naure, hashing and rehashing the same topics, this is normal and will help the person grasp what you are saying. Be patient and interested in your conversation it will ease the other persons frustration.
  • Prepare Yourself for Emotional Outbursts- Anger and frustration may come with emotional outbursts, it is difficult to cope with your own loss.


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    • lrc7815 profile image

      Linda Crist 5 years ago from Central Virginia

      My Dad often gets stuck in the repetition of a conversation. I find that if I change the subject, he frequently will too. It helps avoid the frustration of same old, same old over and over again. Alzheimers is a beast and our family is learning to cope, one day at a time. I am grateful to find a hubber who is writing on this subject. Thanks!