One of the biggest challenges those connected to Alzheimer’s and dementia
residents face is communication. Families want to stay connected to their loved
one but as cognitive abilities change, communication skills also change. Finding
communication techniques that work best for your loved one will make conversations
flow more easier and will make the most of your visits. Reviewing the tips below,
will assist in communicating with the one you love.
• When you arrive at the resident’s home, do not ask the resident what they
have been doing. This creates anxiety for the resident which creates anxiety
for you. The resident may have difficulty remembering what they have done
for the day. Make your greeting about the present moment. For example,
“Rose, look at that beautiful sweater you are wearing. It goes so well with
• Make sure the individual hears you. Many seniors are hard of hearing. Try to
maintain eye contact so they know you are still engaged in conversation.
• Lower the pitch of your voice. A lower pitch is easier to hear.
• Eliminate distracting noises like television and radio.
• Use short words and short sentences.
• Ask only one simple question at a time. Complex choices may overload the
• Speak slowly and wait for the person to respond.
• People with Alzheimer’s and Mild Cognitive Dementia respond very well to
emotional cues. If you are tired, stressed, or angry they will pick up on it.
Before visiting someone with dementia, get in a good space. Approach the
resident in a happy mood because they will always pick up on it.
• Always remain pleasant, calm, and supportive.
• Express affection.
• Look directly into the person’s eyes.
• Point, touch, hand the person things.
• Some people have difficulty finding words. It’s okay to supply words. If you’re
not sure it’s the right word, just go with the flow.
• If you cannot understand what the person is communicating, pick up on a
phrase or word and run with it. Don’t worry about not understanding.
• Focus on connecting. Communicating moment by moment creates lasting
connections for your and your loved one.