Five Great Tips for Communicating with a Person with Dementia

Speech therapy can help your loved one live a more fulfilling life!Older Americans (65 years and older) are one of the fastest growing populations, with the elderly population expected to double from 35 million today to over 70 million by 2030! One of the most common difficulties that accompanies aging is dementia: a decrease in memory and general cognitive function that often occurs in the elderly. A decline in language and general communication is one of the hallmarks of dementia.  Take a look at these tips to help communicate with a person with dementia:

Short, Simple, Slow: A person with dementia isn’t able to process information in the way that they used to. Speak slowly and pause between each sentence to give extra time for processing and response. Provide information in the simplest way possible; avoid long convoluted sentences.

Repeat Important Information: Hearing information more than one time can help a person with dementia maintain focus and better understand what is being said. Repeat key points of your message more than once in a conversation.

Simplify Questions: Open-ended questions can be difficult for a person with dementia. Whenever possible, provide choices, or ask questions that only require a yes/no response.

Use a Positive Tone of Voice: Even though a person with dementia may have trouble understanding your words, they can usually read the emotion in your voice. Speaking in a tone that is tense, rushed, or unhappy, can upset or frighten your loved one, and is likely to provoke a negative reaction. Put extra effort into speaking in a positive, calming tone whenever possible.

Get Outside Help: A communication specialist, such as a speech-language pathologist, can provide education for the caregiver on how best to communicate, and can provide external aids and strategies for the individual with dementia to communicate their needs and preferences to the best of their ability.

For information on our New York based Speech-Language Pathology services, please call Speech Associates of New York today at (212) 308-7725 or visit our website at and find out how our team of professionally trained and certified speech-language pathologists can help!

© 2014, Speech Associates of New York – All Rights Reserved

This entry was posted in Aging, Alzheimer's, Dementia and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Five Great Tips for Communicating with a Person with Dementia

  1. Hester Jones says:

    These are great and very informative tips. In the UK we have a national voluntary campaign called Dementia Friends: with Dementia Champions (like myself!) running awareness sessions to create dementia friendly communities – we are aiming for 1 million Dementia Friends by 2015. Do you have something similar in the US?

    • Corporate Speech Solutions says:

      I just checked out the link: what a great program! I don’t know of any similar ones over here, but I’ll definitely be on the lookout.

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