Communicating well with a person with dementia

Dementia can make it more difficult to communicate with others. As dementia progresses it becomes harder for a person to tell others about themselves and to understand what others are saying to them. This leads to people feeling cut off and isolated.

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Understanding dementia

Understanding dementia

Each person is different, and the way a person reacts to their dementia will be shaped by their personality and personal history. People with dementia are dealing with a disability that is hidden from view: this is confusing and difficult for the person with dementia and those around them. If you understand the most common difficulties that people with dementia struggle with, you will be better able to understand the person you want to get to know.

The person behind the dementia

The person behind the dementia

If you know key information about a person's life before they developed dementia, this will greatly help you develop a relationship with them. Life story work and reminiscence work both involve focusing on a person's past and bringing their history to life and into the present. Identifying strong social and cultural 'touchstones' or events of great personal significance is a way of coming up with a means that will help you to connect with a person with dementia.

having a conversation

Having a conversation

Dementia affects people's communication in different ways. There are lots of things we can do to improve how we communicate with people with dementia. Some people, particularly early on in their dementia, may have very few difficulties communicating. It may be enough to summarise regularly and provide assistance to keep people on track. Some people may have virtually no language at all. In these situations the person will need a lot more help to communicate.

Behaviour as a form of communication

Behaviour as a form of communication

People with dementia communicate in other ways when they lose the ability to speak, through body language, gestures and facial expressions. The behaviour of a person with dementia will be influenced by so many things. The more you know about the person with dementia you are caring for, the more likely you are to understand the meaning behind the behaviour.

Communication in the later stages of dementia

Communication in the later stages of dementia

It is possible to communicate with a person with advanced stage dementia. How we communicate with a person with advanced dementia can vary, depending on what we know about the individual, particularly things they have enjoyed during their life. Communication remains important throughout a person's journey with dementia.

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