Communication Do's and Dont's

WEEKLY COMMUNICATOR (300 x 100 px) (200 × 100 px) (1)

GENERAL PRINCIPLES

  • Dementia may cause a disruption in brain signals that affect the ability to communicate.
  • Non-verbal behavior has purpose and is a form of communication.
  • Try not to show frustration, impatience, or anger if communication is impaired.
  • If needed, take a break. Create a pause by taking a few deep breaths, counting to 10, getting a glass of water, or leaving the room.
  • Use these techniques to help achieve and maintain calm, clean, safe and loved.

COMMUNICATION DO’S

  • Respond to emotional needs.
  • Do more listening, observing, and connecting.
  • Mirror the other person’s mood. For example, if they’re enthusiastic, raise the energy level but if they’re sad, try a more subdued approach.
  • Try to make any questions ones that can be answered by “yes” or “no.”
  • Be patient when waiting for a response.
  • Use positive language. Try not to say the word “no” or “don’t.”
  • Use simple, direct language.
  • Talk about one subject at a time.
  • Use repetition and descriptive language to add specificity.
  • Show respect and preserve dignity.
  • Speak slowly and distinctively. Project a calm and reassuring manner.
  • Give limited, specific choices rather than broad categories such as tea or coffee rather than something to drink.
  • Turn questions into answers by affirmatively suggesting a desired behavior such as “let’s go the restroom” instead of asking if the restroom is needed.
  • Call the person by name, use eye contact, and approach from the front.
  • Reduce background noise.
  • Employ humor at the appropriate time, but never at another’s expense. It can be a good way to cover over a communication mistake.
  • Apologizing to the person can diffuse a situation.
  • Acknowledge feelings associated with communication, even if it is incorrect information, then redirect the conversation.
  • Engage the person in routine activities to preserve a feeling of belongingness.
  • Be observant of reactions to communication and adjust as needed. Every day can be different.
  • Allow the person to tell their stories, even if they are repeated.

COMMUNICATION DON’TS

  • Do not take things too literally.
  • Do not use baby talk.
  • Do not rush.
  • Do not correct or quiz.
  • Try not to ask any question that requires short-term memory retrieval.
  • Do not argue unless a safety issue is the problem. If so, give a short explanation that safety is important and then offer your understanding of the person’s feelings.
  • Do not ask if the person remembers something, as this sets up the possibility of failing. Instead, include the person in conversation by connecting with a past memory using a story that is familiar.
  • Avoid pointing out to the person that something that was told to them has been forgotten.
  • Saying goodbye may be distressing, so it may be necessary to tell the person that an errand needs to be run in order to leave.

More on Dementia

Sundowning

Sundowning is a diagnosis but not a syndrome.

Read More

Agitation and Aggression

Identify the causes of agitation and aggression to help identify appropriate strategies.

Read More

Engagement Activities

Engagement activities stimulate the brain and can lead to relaxation and satisfaction.

Read More

Holidays and Events

Memory disorders can cause a low tolerance for lively settings.

Read More

Devices and Technology

Learn about the different technology available to assist those aging in place.

Read More

Communication Do’s and Don’ts

Proper communication with someone with a memory disorder.

Read More

Fire Safety

Memory impairments increase risk of engaging in fire-risky behavior.

Read More

Driving Conversation

Dr. Edwards discusses how to have a conversation about driving with dementia.

Read More

Driving and Dementia

Memory disorders increase risk of unsafe driving.

Read More

Firearm Safety

Understand the importance of firearm safety and strategies to reduce risk.

Read More