All of us enjoy connecting with people in a meaningful way. When talking with someone who has dementia, try talking with them as you would anyone else. Watch for cues that they are having trouble following the conversation and ask if there is anything that you can do to make it easier for them. If it is obvious that the person is struggling to follow and participate in the conversation, try some of the following approaches:
- Speak slowly and calmly.
- Use short, simple sentences.
- Ask “yes” and “no” questions.
- Ask a single question at a time and leave lots of time for answers.
- Listen carefully to what the person is saying and observe both verbal and non-verbal communications.
Changes in the ability to communicate are unique to each person with dementia. Someone living with the disease may have trouble finding a word or may create new words, repeat a word or phrase, have difficulty organizing words logically, swear inappropriately, revert to a first language or talk less than they normally might.