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Communication tips

The more dementia progresses, the more difficult conversation becomes. While feeling disheartened is normal, don’t give up! Here are helpful tips that might improve the relationship:

  • Introduce yourself. It may feel awkward but you can no longer assume that your Dad remembers who you are. (i.e. "Hi Dad. It's your daughter Sarah.)"
  • Smile.
  • Be calm and gentle. You set the mood.
  • Use humour.    
  • Use visual cues for directions (e.g. pointing in the desired location or patting the appropriate chair).
  • Go at her pace. People with dementia need more time to respond.
  • Give instructions one at a time.
  • Use pampering (hand massage, manicure, comb her hair).
  • Remember he responds to you and your body language.
  • Be flexible and respond to his mood changes.
  • If he repeats the same question, answer like the first time.
  • Wait for a response.
  • Be accepting of inappropriate answers and nonsense words.
  • Be aware of your body language. Use it to communicate relaxation and reassurance.
  • Try not to argue.
  • Do not ask your loved one to reason or problem-solve.
  • Do not ask “don’t you remember?”  This can cause agitation.
  • Do not correct his ideas or scold him.
  • If your husband experiences a hallucination or delusion, it is best not to re-orientate them, unless it causes harm.  For example, your husband tells you that his mother is coming to visit tomorrow. Don’t explain she has long passed; instead distract with a new topic of conversation.


Last Updated: 09/15/17
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