Help Your Loved One with Dementia Communicate! 3 Easy Tips

DysphagiaAs modern medicine continually finds ways to extend the length and quality of life, the number of older adults in the United States has increased significantly. Unfortunately, aging often brings difficulties in speech, language and communication. One of the most common communication issues for senior citizens is dementia.

People typically associate dementia with difficulty remembering things. But dementia doesn’t just affect a person’s memory—it can also create significant problems in understanding and producing language. A speech-language pathologist can work with the individual and their family to provide strategies to maintain meaningful communication for as long as possible, and increase language use. Here are just a few tips for helping increase and improve communication with a person with dementia:

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.

Slow Down: Speaking slowly and pausing between each sentence allows the person with dementia to process your speech. Allow for pauses and silence after you finish speaking as well—a person with dementia may need extra time to formulate a response.

Keep It Simple: Provide information in the simplest way possible and avoid long complicated sentences. If the person you’re speaking to seems confused, pause, and try to rephrase in a simpler way. When asking questions, try to provide choices or use questions that require only a yes-no response; open-ended questions can be difficult for a person with dementia.

Want to learn more? If you have any questions or would like to know more about speech-language therapy, give me a call at (212) 308-7725 or send an e-mail to I’d be happy to chat and answer any questions you may have.

© 2015, Speech Associates of New York – All Rights Reserved

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