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How To Approach Someone With Dementia

Communicating Through Body Language And Physical Contact

How the Montessori Approach helps people with Dementia

Communication is not just talking. Gestures, movement and facial expressions can all convey meaning or help you get a message across. Body language and physical contact become significant when speech is difficult for a person with dementia.

When someone has difficulty speaking or understanding, try to:

  • be patient and remain calm, which can help the person communicate more easily
  • keep your tone of voice positive and friendly, where possible
  • talk to them at a respectful distance to avoid intimidating them being at the same level or lower than they are can also help
  • pat or hold the person’s hand while talking to them to help reassure them and make you feel closer watch their body language and listen to what they say to see whether they’re comfortable with you doing this

It’s important that you encourage the person to communicate what they want, however they can. Remember, we all find it frustrating when we cannot communicate effectively, or are misunderstood.

Cope With Changes In Communication

As your loved ones Alzheimers or dementia progresses, youll notice changes in how they communicate. They may have trouble finding words, substitute one word for another, repeat the same things over and over, or become easily confused. Increased hand gestures, losing their train of thought, and even inappropriate outbursts are all common as well.

Even if your loved one has trouble maintaining a conversationor less interest in starting oneits important to encourage social interaction. Making them feel safe rather than stressed will make communication easier, so try to manage your own frustration levels.

Be patient. If your loved one has difficulty recalling a word, for example, allow them time. Getting anxious or impatient will only inhibit their recall. Gently supply the word or tell the person that you can come back to it later.

Be aware of your body language. Your loved one responds to your facial expression, tone of voice, and nonverbal cues as much as the words you choose. Make eye contact, stay calm, and keep a relaxed, open posture.

Speak slowly and clearly. Give one direction or ask one question at a time, use short sentences, and give your loved one more time to process whats being said. Find a simpler way to say the same thing if it wasnt understood the first time.

Maintain respect. Dont use patronizing language, baby talk, or sarcasm. It can cause hurt or confusion.

What Should I Say To Someone Living With Dementia

It is important to know what to say to someone living with dementia, this way they wont get as confused or frustrated.

  • Do not ask multiple questions one after the other.
  • Stick to just one idea at a time.
  • Make information manageable by breaking it down.
  • Ask closed questions that can be answered with just yes or no when the individual is being asked to make a decision.
  • Rephrase something rather than repeating it.
  • Try not to contradict and correct someone who is confused about what is real and what isnt such as happens in later stages of dementia.

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Dont Counter Aggressive Behavior

People with dementia and/or Alzheimer’s may become aggressive in response to the environment. Bath time is often when the aggressive behavior is displayed. The caregivers and/or family member’s approach may also play a part. Rushing, speaking harshly, or forcing a person may result in an aggressive response. When someone with memory loss displays aggressive behavior, it is a form of communication. It may be the only way a person has left to say, Pay attention to me! I don’t want to take a bath! When someone is communicating vigorously, it is the caregivers and/or family member’s job to respect that communication. Hitting, kicking, or biting are ways of saying, stop. The appropriate response is to stop. That doesnt mean not to try again in five minutes or a half an hour.

How To Talk With A Parent About Dementia Symptoms

In Missing Person
  • /
  • How to Talk With a Parent About Dementia Symptoms

  • Watching your parents age can be difficult and when signs of dementia appear, it can be harder than ever. Talking to parents about these changes may seem overwhelming, but having the tough conversation now can lead to an earlier diagnosis and will help everyone better cope with the changes.

    Learn more about talking to a parent exhibiting dementia symptoms.

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    Tips For Everyday Care For People With Dementia

    Early on in Alzheimers and related dementias, people experience changes in thinking, remembering, and reasoning in a way that affects daily life and activities. Eventually, people with these diseases will need more help with simple, everyday tasks. This may include bathing, grooming, and dressing. It may be upsetting to the person to need help with such personal activities. Here are a few tips to consider early on and as the disease progresses:

    • Try to keep a routine, such as bathing, dressing, and eating at the same time each day.
    • Help the person write down to-do lists, appointments, and events in a notebook or calendar.
    • Plan activities that the person enjoys and try to do them at the same time each day.
    • Consider a system or reminders for helping those who must take medications regularly.
    • When dressing or bathing, allow the person to do as much as possible.
    • Buy loose-fitting, comfortable, easy-to-use clothing, such as clothes with elastic waistbands, fabric fasteners, or large zipper pulls instead of shoelaces, buttons, or buckles.
    • Use a sturdy shower chair to support a person who is unsteady and to prevent falls. You can buy shower chairs at drug stores and medical supply stores.
    • Be gentle and respectful. Tell the person what you are going to do, step by step while you help them bathe or get dressed.
    • Serve meals in a consistent, familiar place and give the person enough time to eat.

    Confirm Understanding Of What Has Been Said

    Words used by a person with dementia dont always make sense. If you have a good relationship with and knowledge of the person you can probably guess the meaning. But it is important not to assume what has been said. Try to check you are on the right track by repeating a word or phrase used, or suggest other words to confirm understanding of what has been said.

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    Encouraging Someone With Dementia To Communicate

    Try to start conversations with the person you’re looking after, especially if you notice that they’re starting fewer conversations themselves. It can help to:

    • speak clearly and slowly, using short sentences
    • make eye contact with the person when they’re talking or asking questions
    • give them time to respond, because they may feel pressured if you try to speed up their answers
    • encourage them to join in conversations with others, where possible
    • let them speak for themselves during discussions about their welfare or health issues
    • try not to patronise them, or ridicule what they say
    • acknowledge what they have said, even if they do not answer your question, or what they say seems out of context show that you’ve heard them and encourage them to say more about their answer
    • give them simple choices avoid creating complicated choices or options for them
    • use other ways to communicate such as rephrasing questions because they cannot answer in the way they used to

    The Alzheimer’s Society has lots of information that can help, including details on the progression of dementia and communicating.

    How To Deal With Dementia Behavior Problems

    Person Centered Care for Someone With Dementia
    • How to Deal with Dementia Behavior Problems: 19 Dos and Donts

    Dementia is a disease that affects millions of people across the globe every year. It is often a highly misunderstood condition that is marred by numerous misconceptions, which make the condition difficult to understand and study.

    You should know that dementia is not a name for an illness, rather it is a collective term that describes a broad range of symptoms that relate to declining of thinking, memory, and cognitive skills. These symptoms have deteriorating effects that usually affect how a patient acts and engages in the day-to-day activities.

    In advanced dementia stages, affected persons may experience symptoms that bring out a decline in rational thought, intellect, social skills, memory, and normal emotional reactivity. It is something that can make them powerless when it comes to living normal, healthy lives.

    Relatives, caregivers, spouses, siblings, children and anyone close to a person who has dementia need to know how to deal with behavioral problems that surface because of the illness. Examples of dementia problems may include aggressiveness, violence and oppositional behaviors. Find out some of the vital Do and Donts when dealing with a dementia patient.

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    This Is Your Life Book

    Making a chronological history of the person with dementia can help with reminiscence and provides information for people who may interact with them. A This Is Your Life book is a visual diary. Similar to a family photo album, it can also include letters, postcards, certificates and other memorabilia.

    A large photo album with plastic protective sheets over each page will last indefinitely and can withstand a lot of use. Each photo needs to be labelled to avoid putting the person with dementia on the spot with questions such as Who is that? It is best to limit the information on each page to one topic, and to have a maximum of two or three items on each page.

    The following list may help in getting a book started:

    • Full name and preferred name
    • Place and date of birth
    • Places lived in

    Person Centered Approaches To Dementia

    When you are caring for someone with dementia to know how to support them the best way possible, a person centered approach will help prevent beavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia. According to Alzheimers society 225,000 will develop dementia this year, thats one every three minutes.

    Person centred working is vital when planning, which is something that is ongoing when someone has dementia due to the constant changing nature of the condition. When planning, the following person centred working strategies should always be employed:

    • Valuing the relationship between planning and services.
    • The importance of relationships and interactions between all involved.
    • Identifying actions to be carried out.
    • Resolving issues.
    • Assessing the cost and use of resources.

    The overriding aspect to all of these principles is that person centred planning should involve the individual and, where appropriate, their carers as much as they are possibly able to contribute. Any kind of care and support should be tailored and delivered in line with the individuals preferences and wishes so that their perspective is respected and they are treated with care, empathy and dignity throughout the process.

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    Supporting A Person With Dementia

    The way a person with dementia feels and experiences life is down to more than just having the condition.

    There are many other factors aside from the symptoms of dementia that play a huge role in shaping someone’s experience. These include the relationships the person has, their environment and the support they receive.

    Personal relationships and someone’s social environment are central to life, regardless of age or mental ability. People can recognise this by being as supportive as possible. Carers, friends and family, can help a person with dementia to feel valued and included. Support should be sensitive to the person as an individual, and focus on promoting their wellbeing and meeting their needs.

    When supporting a person with dementia, it can be helpful for carers to have an understanding of the impact the condition has on that person. This includes understanding how the person might think and feel, as these things will affect how they behave.

    The person may be experiencing a world that is very different to that of the people around them. It will help if the carer offers support while trying to see things from the perspective of the person with dementia, as far as possible.

    Each person is unique, with their own life history, personality, likes and dislikes. It is very important to focus on what the person still does have, not on what they may have lost. It is also important to focus on what the person feels rather than what they remember.

    Dont Just Talk Loudly


    Not every person with dementia has a hearing impairment, and using a loud tone can make them feel like you are yelling at them. Use a clear, normal tone of voice to start a conversation with someone.

    If the person doesnt respond or you become aware that they have a hearing problem, you can increase your volume. Speaking in a slightly lower register can also help if someone has a hearing problem.

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    Why The Problem Exists

    Firstly, when dealing with issues of incontinence it is important to rule out health reasons that may have little or nothing to do with dementia. Difficulty going to the bathroom can be a sign of a urinary tract infection , dietary or hydration issues , prostate problems in men, or side effects from medication . Consult with your loved ones doctor to be sure none of these are factors, even as you follow the following steps to make toilet use easier.

    Alzheimers disease itself, of course, makes using the toilet more difficult. Alzheimers affects brain function, and signals between the brain and parts of the body break down. For this reason, someone with a full bladder may not feel the physical sensation of needing to go.

    Mobility becomes a problem for people with Alzheimers, particularly in later stages, meaning the basic act of getting up and walking to the bathroom, taking down your clothes, and cleaning up afterward, are all harder.

    Fortunately, there are behavioral steps and around-the-house tips and upgrades that can simplify toileting and cut down on incontinence and accidents.

    Do’s And Don’ts For Communicating With Someone Who Has Dementia


    Caring for someone with dementia isnt something that any of us expects to do when we are young. Yet, for the adult sons and daughters of more than five million American seniors*, that is their reality. And whether youre caring for your loved one every dayor just occasionally, knowing how to talk to a parent with dementia will help keep the connection you share as strong as possible for as long as possible.

    Navigating successful conversations with dementia patients takes trial and error, respect, and practice. It also helps to understand the dos and donts of asking and answering questions. Oh, and did I say patience? Youll need a lot of that.

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    Plan Specific Ways To Start The Conversation

    Use these conversation starters:

    • Ive been thinking through my own long-term care plans lately and I was wondering if you have any advanced planning tips for me?
    • I was wondering if youve noticed the same changes in your behavior that Ive noticed?
    • Would you want to know if I noticed any concerning changes in your behavior?

    Things To Say To Someone With Alzheimers

    Working with Dementia (2 of 6)

    Seeing someone you care about experience Alzheimers or another type of dementia is painstakingly difficult. Knowing what to say to someone whos lost his or her memory can also be hard. However, how you approach conversations can have a significant impact on your loved one.

    The most important tip for communication with someone living with Alzheimers is to meet them where they are, said Ruth Drew, director of Information and Support Services at the Alzheimers Association. In the early stage of the disease, a person is still able to have meaningful conversations, but may repeat stories, feel overwhelmed by excessive stimulation, or have difficulty finding the right word. Be patient and understand that their brain is not working in the way it once did.

    As the disease progresses, communicating with that person may become even more challenging. However, if you recognize the changes and challenges that come with dementia, you will more easily be able to alter your conversations with that person to meet his or her needs.

    This may require slowing down and making eye contact with the person as you speak, says Drew. Use short, simple sentences, ask one question at a time, and give the person time to process and respond before continuing the conversation. If you are kind, gentle and relaxed, everything will work better.

    Read on for six helpful things to say to those with Alzheimers, and three topics and phrases experts recommend avoiding.

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    Having A Conversation With Someone With Dementia

    Communication is critical for everyone. There are two main forms of communication verbal and non-verbal . This feature focuses on the verbal form of communication and will provide you with some practical tips on how to help a person with dementia.

    For information on non-verbal communication, see the feature in this section on Behaviour as a form of communication.

    What we say should match how we say it the tone we use… and the faces that we pull while we are saying it.

    For more on the importance of good communication, and from the point of view of people with dementia themselves, read the feature What other people can do to help me live well in the section Getting to know the person with dementia.

    Dont Shy Away From Tears Or Laughter

    People with dementia often lead very emotional lives. Anxiety and grief may be quite near to the surface. Dont shy away from tears. Stay with the person and offer them natural support.

    You may not be able to fix the cause of the anxiety or grief, but seeing this through with them and not being afraid will help them enormously. Never underestimate this. Likewise, having a belly laugh together over something silly is a great way of getting to know each other.

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