Communicating with elderly people with dementia

Effective communication is the key to maintaining strong relationships with everyone, but talking to elderly people requires a different approach than talking to younger people. Conversing with a healthy elderly person sometimes requires more thought and care. This is especially true if the elderly person has dementia.

Key points to remember when communicating with elderly persons with dementia

  1. Speak slowly. Do not yell at them, and avoid raising your voice or pitch. Speaking too fast or in a high-pitched voice may cause misunderstanding because they may believe they are being scolded.
  2. Deliver only one message or question at a time, and keep it short and to the point. When necessary, use actual objects to help them understand or provide options to help them answer your question.
  3. Be mindful of your facial expressions and gestures, as they may mislead or distract the elderly. Also, make sure there is enough light for them to see your expressions and gestures.
  4. Eliminate distractions. Elderly people are easily distracted in noisy environments. Help them hear more clearly by eliminating distractions by turning off the radio or the TV. Encourage those who have trouble hearing to use their hearing aids.
  5. Always be patient and give them time to express themselves. Giving them the utmost respect and care can make all the difference. Understanding the needs of an elderly person is the most effective way to provide genuine care and assistance.

Additional resources

Last updated on July 7th, 2023

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