Communicating with loved ones who have dementia

I work in senior living, assisting families, some of whom include loved ones with Alzheimer's and other types of dementia. As this blog regularly discusses communication, I feel this article is apropos:

Communicating with Loved Ones who have Dementia
Redmond Reporter, July 30, 2010
Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia dramatically hinder the lives of those with the disease, exhibiting short-term memory loss, time and place disorientation, and difficulty with language. Some tips to better communicate with loved ones who are suffering from dementia:
* Reminiscence and pleasantries: Often loved ones with dementia may have greater command of old memories from their childhood. Initiate open-ended inquiries, like “Tell me about your mom” or “What was it like growing up on the farm?”
* Creating success: Loved ones with dementia may be aware of the progression of their disease, hyper-aware of what they’re losing – memories, independence. As much as you’re able, initiate conversations that maintain the dignity of your loved one, inviting them to speak in the moment, rather than quizzing them on the recent past. For example, don’t ask “What did you do yesterday?” or “Have you heard from Aunt Nita?” Instead try “Your lunch looks wonderful – are you enjoying it?”
* Take the journey: Your loved one with dementia might drift in to and out of various memories and periods from their life, sometimes intermingling unconnected events. You needn’t re-orient your loved one to reality – simply take the journey with your loved one into their memories. If your 90-year old mother tells you that she needs to prepare tea for her dad, try, “Let’s make a pot of tea together and talk about your dad – he was a plumber, wasn’t he?” and lead your mom back into a pleasant reminiscence.


  1. Most days my gramma didn't remember me, I was simple The Lady with the Kids. It didn't matter, I enjoyed her company anyway, but cherished those moments when her memory would flicker, she recognized me, and poured out her love. Even though she rarely remembered me, the kids and I still have precious memories from those visits. Great article, thanks for posting!


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