Gentle Communication

When communicating with someone with dementia, we always want to focus on the person and meet him or her where they are. Ruth Drew, MS, LPC, director of information and support services at the Alzheimer’s Association

Daughters I interview who have experience with dementia know that, over time, their mothers will have difficulty finding the right words or expressing a complete thought. It may be difficult, but connection remains possible (for a while) if these communication guidelines are followed.

…Connect at eye level by sitting next to or in front of your mother. Speak slowly and deliberately to her so she has time to process.

…Clear away as much of your own anxiety and frustration as possible. Your mother can read your mood and your anxiety can contribute to her shutting down.

…People with dementia are playing with a different set of rules. Don’t argue with them or try to correct facts. If your mother is frustrated and unable to express what is wrong, don’t bombard her with questions. hold her hand and acknowledge that she is having a bad day.

Affirmation: I can adjust my communication style.

Coaching questions: If you don’t have someone with dementia in your life, how can you use these suggestions to enhance communications with others….a grandchild, a disturbed friend, etc?