HealthDo’s and Don'ts for Communicating with Someone Who Has Dementia

Do’s and Don’ts for Communicating with Someone Who Has Dementia

Considering the world we live in today, dementia is one of the commonest conditions that one can face when they’re old. For those dealing with someone with dementia, it is imperative that they communicate in a way that does not aggravate the affected person in any way, as that can bring about counter-effective results. 

An essential thing to consider is that for those who have dementia – the disability is memory loss. Expecting them to remember something is as good as expecting a deaf person to hear or a blind person to see. Remember that all stages of dementia needs special attention. 

To make communication easier for those taking care of a demented person, we have listed some do’s and don’ts that should be abided by, like a bible. 

Communicating with Someone with Dementia – Do’s

Dementia patients are vulnerable and you need to deal with sympathy and understanding. 

  1. Offer simple, one-line explanations

In case the person who has dementia is asking you a question, you should try and answer them in short and simple sentences, ideally, in seven words or less. Using too many words or long sentences can confuse them and can defeat the very purpose of communication. 

  1. Offer time for comprehension

In case you are communicating with someone with dementia, the rule of thumb is that you need to give them a sufficient amount of time to comprehend what you are saying. For example, if you think giving them 15 seconds is enough, triple it! 

  1. Smile to assure

People who have dementia are known to take cues from body language as well. Keeping this in mind, you need to remember to smile while you are communicating with them. But you must ensure that the smile is not in a mocking way, as that can aggravate the patient and have adverse effects.

  1. Let them communicate

Communicating with someone who has dementia must be a two-way street; be open to them speaking out about what they want and the way they want it. This will reassure them that you care, which will prove beneficial for you in the long run.

  1. Repeat what you have said (if necessary) in the same tone

It may often happen that a person who has dementia may not be able to comprehend what you have instructed them the first time or even a few times after that. You must be calm and composed with them and ensure that you repeat what you have said to them in the exact same way. 

Do not lose your patience or temper while dealing with a person who has dementia.

Communicating with Someone with Dementia – Don’ts

Below are the things that you shouldn’t do while dealing with dementia patients. These are listed in order. 

  1. Avoid reasoning

The last thing you should expect from someone with dementia is reasonability. And, that is not a bad thing; it is just the condition. Considering this, make sure that you avoid reasoning with them. This can, in turn, aggravate them and lead to additional complications. 

  1. Don’t point out their forgetfulness

The very fact that they have dementia means that they are incapable of remembering recent events. To point it out to them is not going to serve any purpose whatsoever. You might argue that they will forget this fact eventually as well. Still, until they forget it, it can cause them to get perplexed, which is to be avoided at all costs.

  1. Stay away from questioning their recent memory

As we just mentioned, a person with dementia has a tough time remembering recent events in their life; however, in most cases, they can reminisce events that happened in the earlier part of their lives. With this in mind, someone in the care of dementia afflicted person should avoid bringing up questions about recent events in the person’s life.

  1. Don’t be dominating

Make sure that you are talking to someone with dementia at their eye level. Do not stand over them or make yourself look dominating. Doing the latter will only serve to alienate you from the demented. 

On the other hand, talking with them while staying at their eye level will make you seem like a friend to the person with dementia, helping him or her open up with you.

  1. Don’t take anything personally

It can sometimes happen that you are told something unpleasant by a person who has dementia. You must remember that you should never take it personally. Take it in your stride and move on.


There you go! It can be a delicate balance when it comes to communicating with a person who has dementia. However, if you do it correctly and avoid coming across as condescending, it can help you get the results you are looking for.  Remember, the keyword is, ‘patience, patience and, patience’.

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