Dementia Care: A Positive Approach to Communication


Dementia360 - A Presbyterian SeniorCare Network Program, Allegheny County

Posted on

Apr 13, 2022


Pennsylvania - Greater Pittsburgh Area

Maintaining positive, loving communication in the midst of the daily stress of caring for a family member living with dementia can be challenging for everyone involved, but it is essential for the health and well-being of each member of the family.
How you talk with your family member, how much they understand, and how you make them feel when you are talking with them impacts your relationship, the overall vibe at home, and whether they are accepting of your help and guidance or refuse it.
Positive Communication Approaches
Eliminate Distractions: Minimize extra noise (fans, radios, whistling hearing aids) and visual distractions (glasses on/clean, TV off). If the person is seated, sit down; connect with them at eye level. To get their attention, gesture, smile, offer your hand and make eye contact.
Avoid Conflicts: A person living with dementia will forget facts, but they will never forget how you make them feel. Rather than repeatedly arguing about tea kettles left on the stove, buy an electric kettle with an automatic off. Label cabinets with pictures to avoid frustrating searches and promote independence. When they talk about long-ago events as though they are currently happening, or refer to someone who has passed as alive, resist correcting them; join them in their world rather than forcing them into yours.
Keep it Simple: Break tasks down into simple steps; use five words or less in a sentence, visuals instead of words when possible, and non-verbal cues like pointing or showing. Be patientwait at least 20-30 seconds for answers and offer a choice between two options rather than asking them an open-ended question or too many choices.
Be Calm: People living with dementia are highly empathetic, often mirroring the emotionsgood and badof their caregivers. So, be aware of your body language, facial expressions and tone of voice. If youre becoming irritated or frustrated, walk away, take a deep breath, and try again when you are relaxed.
As a Dementia Care Center of Excellence, Presbyterian SeniorCare Network is committed to sharing our expertise and providing educational support to improve dementia care, especially for people living with dementia at home. To learn more about services for family caregivers visit
Editors Note: This article was written by Presbyterian SeniorCare Network. Contact us at to learn more.

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Dementia360 - A Presbyterian SeniorCare Network Program, Allegheny County

Caregiver Support Services 1215 Hulton Rd, Oakmont, Pennsylvania, 15139

Presbyterian SeniorCare Network introduces Dementia360, a comprehensive care management program supporting caregivers of persons living with Alzheimers or other related dementias. Youll receive education and ongoing support that helps you care for your family member in the home as well as anticipate and manage disease-related challenges.