Here are some useful tips to effectively communicate with a person with dementia. Communication is not a one size fits all, so please tailor your approach to each individual, and remember sometimes its not WHAT you say but HOW you say it.
Begin by Setting a Positive Mood- Your attitude and body language communicate stronger than words.
Be sure to get the persons attention-Limit distractions and noise. Address client by name, identify yourself by name and use non verbal cues and touch to help client stay focused. If client is seated, get down to her level and maintain eye contact.
State your Message clearly. Speak slowly, and distinctly and in a reassuring tone while using simple words and sentences. Ask simple, specific, answerable questions. Only ask one question at a time. Questions with yes or no answers work best. Give instructions that are easy to understand. Break down tasks into simple 2-3 simple steps
Adjust your expectations. Respond with affection and reassurance. Do not use “remember”. Do not test their memory or tell them of their deficits.
When the going gets tough, distract and redirect. By redirecting an individual with dementia, you may be able to avoid or delay outbursts or inappropriate behaviors.
Use validation. Use humor whenever possible.
* From Linda Burhans “Good Nightand God Bless”
Francesca Alonso (pictured above) is a licensed Geriatric Speech Language Pathologist. She has training in management in Dementia care and is on track to becoming a Certified Dementia Practitioner (CDP).