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Dementia: Communication Tips Cheat Sheet by

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Commun­icating with a dementia person

Communication occurs in a quiet place that is free from distra­ction
The person’s language and culture are taken into account and not disreg­arded
Communication does not overes­timate the person’s percep­tion, attention span, intell­ectual unders­tanding or memory
Communication is open and conveys respect and trust. Patron­ising speech or talking to the person with dementia in a childlike way may either foster a sense of helple­ssness and dependency or trigger an angry and defensive response
Each person has an opport­unity to respond
Sensory aids (hearing aids, specta­cles) are approp­riately utilized and sensory impair­ments (wax, cataracts) are treated.

Make sure that you can be seen and heard

make sure the hearing aid is on (if applic­able)
stand in front of the person where they can see you
face the person directly so they can see your facial expression and mouth
place yourself at eye level when talking or listening
identify yourself by name
use the person’s name

Make contact with the person:

try to keep calm and relaxed
touch gently if the person likes to be touched
smile and use humour

Make commun­ication simple & easy to understand

use gestures, pictures and/or signs to explain or express things
avoid talking over/a­cro­ss/­about the person with dementia
speak gently and clearly at an even pace - avoid shouting
ask one question at a time
use names of people and places instead of pronouns: eg; Jack, our neighbour, or Muffy, our dog.
use a statement rather than a question
wait for a response before continuing
explain what you are going to do & what you are doing
repeat or rephrase your message if there is no response.

Commun­ication Tips

Other sugges­tions

talk normally: they will understand how you are feeling, even if they are not aware of what you say
use hand gestures and facial expres­sions such as smiles to reinforce your words
allow for the time a damaged brain takes to process messages
show your concern with reassu­rance and acceptance
give praise when it’s approp­riate
respond to the feelings expressed by the person
when talking in a group, place the person so that the conver­sation is around them and they won’t feel ‘left out’
make it easy to join in conver­sation by asking questions that only need a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer
arguments over mistaken ideas should be avoided: eg; If the person insists they have seen a TV program a million times before even though it is a first run say: “Oh well, I don’t think I’ve seen it before. It’s intere­sting isn’t it?”
touching enhances feeling of security: especially if the person is upset.

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