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The Art of Caring: Dementia series part 1

10 February 2020

Local News

Written byMatt Barnes

The Art of Caring: Dementia series part 1

Dementia Series Part 1 – Communicating with someone who has Dementia

When a loved one or friend is living with Dementia, one of the most difficult aspects of care can be effective communication with that person.

What would have previously been a simple question or conversation can become perplexing for the Dementia sufferer and frustrating for at least one, if not both of you.

The good news is that there are a number of methods that can be used to communicate with them. By learning and utilising these skills, your ongoing relationship will benefit, and they can help you to handle more difficult situations that you may encounter along the way. Try to practice this methodology in every conversation and see how you can improve your communication with your loved one.

Position yourself correctly

When communicating, position yourself in front of the person so that they can see your face and hear your voice clearly. Try to avoid talking to them from the side or from afar.

Be positive and use friendly body language

Actions and body language convey your feelings more than words do. Dementia sufferers especially can pick up on this, when understanding conversation has become difficult. Ensure your body language is open, your tone of voice is friendly yet respectful and use physical touch to show affection where appropriate.

Give a clear message or question

Try to not use overly complicated language, use shorter sentences and speak a bit slower than normal to purvey your message. Try to use the names of people and places instead of pronouns (he, she, they etc.) Try to use yes/ no or closed ended questions where an outcome is required eg. ‘Would you like your red hat or blue hat?’ As opposed to ‘Which of your hats would you like to wear?’ Where possible, showing the options as visual prompts will ease this process further.

Respond with assurance

People with dementia get easily confused which often leads to anxiety and frustration. If they have got confused about a situation or are recalling a situation that never happened, it is best not to correct them as this could distress them. Rather, focus on the emotions they are demonstrating and react accordingly to these. Remember, even if what they are talking about didn’t happen, the emotion they are feeling at that time is real.

Talk about the good old days!

Dementia sufferers often have impaired short-term memory with a better level of retained long-term memory. Try asking them questions about themselves when they were younger or specific events in their past.

The use of distraction and changing the subject

If a particular subject or request had led to your loved one becoming agitated, often the best method is to leave it be for a moment. For example, maybe your loved one does not want to take their medication. Acknowledge how they are feeling and move on to a different subject. After a couple of minutes, try gently introducing the medication again. You may find that after breaking the cycle of agitation, they may now be more receptive.

Radfield Home Care Wycombe, Beaconsfield & South Bucks specialises in care for older people in their own homes. Our services include companionship, personal care, medication support, housework and specialist Dementia and Parkinson’s care, all provided by fully trained and DBS checked carers. To discuss your needs, or those of a friend or relative, please call on 01494 614 516, or email [email protected].


Matt Barnes

Matt Barnes


A qualified financial planner, using his experience to grow a business and support the local older community.

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