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Communication Tips

Staying connected.

Loved ones with dementia struggle to find words, form sentences and stay on track with a topic. Eventually, they lose the ability to communicate and may not understand what is being said to them. It is essential that caregivers adapt in order to stay connected.

How to Interact with Someone with Dementia
Always be respectful

Realize and accept that it takes lots of patience and understanding to be a dementia caregiver.

Use touch

A simple touch can communicate warmth, connection, safety and love. This could be through hand holding or a comforting massage.


Create a calm environment, and minimize or eliminate distractions, such as TV.

Be kind

Use a caring tone of voice and facial expressions. Persons with dementia are sensitive to the emotions of others and may mimic emotions like anger.

Slow down

Simplify conversations and questions. Allow enough time for the person to understand and to respond.


Be reassuring if your loved one is having difficulty communicating or understanding.

Use more than words

Use gestures. A gentle touch to the person's arm can help communicate your message.

Provide favorite foods

Persons with dementia often favor food that is soft in texture and sweet in taste.

Utilize music

Sing or play songs throughout the day that evoke pleasant memories. Music can decrease anxiety during personal care tasks, promote relaxation and prevent boredom. Hospice of the Valley is a certified member of Music and Memory™, a nonprofit bringing personalized music to the elderly or infirm.

Focus on pleasant conversation

Use photos, picture books, fond memories, music, or a favorite movie to engage. The focus is less about content and more about appealing to emotion. Provide a balance of calming and stimulating activities to enhance well-being.

Tips to Help Prevent Conflict
Don't make assumptions

Do not act as if the person is unable to understand what is being said. Never talk about the person as though he or she is not present.

Don't quiz

Avoid asking the person to recall names, dates or other facts. Not knowing the answer may Be frustrating and embarrassing.

Simplify questions

Ask questions that simply require a “yes” or “no” response.

Choose calm

Avoid confrontation, and do not argue. Do not try to correct the person or prove they are wrong about something.