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Ten Strategies to Communicate Better with Older Adults with Dementia

1. Reduce Distractions: Turn off TV or radio, find quiet place to talk, close the door if possible. This allows the person to focus their energy on the conversation.
2. Get the Person’s Attention: Establish eye contact, smile, use their first name, and identify yourself by name, position, relation. Use a natural voice.
3. State Your Message Clearly: Use simple words and sentences. Speak slowly, distinctly, and in a reassuring tone. Refrain from raising your voice louder.
4. Ask Simple Questions: Those that can be answered with a simple yes or no and one word is best. Avoid open ended questions. Ask only one question at a time.
5. Give Two Choices: Example – would you like to wear the red blouse or white blouse? Show the choices if possible.
6. Give Extra Time for Responses: Be patient in waiting for a reply. Watch for nonverbal cues and body language to help you understand.
7. Give Directions One at a Time: Break down activities into series of steps. This will help them to understand and participate better.
8. Stick to a Topic: Avoid quick shifts from topic to topic or activity to activity.
9. Have Patience: Do not show your frustration and try to to correct every inaccurate statement they make.
10. Remember there will be Good Days and Bad Days: Just like anyone, they will have ups and downs. Just keep trying.

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