Dementia is a neurological disease that impairs the brain in areas of cognition, such as memory loss and judgment. As the disease progresses, your loved one’s social skills, such as carrying a conversation, will be impacted. Here are some helpful tips to successfully communicate with your loved one affected by this disease.
- Use normal tone instead of talking to them as if they were a child, slow down your rate of speech, and as appropriate, increase volume.
- Minimize environmental distractions when conversing, such as the TV or radio volume, or choose to engage in conversation in a quieter environment without other ongoing distractions.
- Increase your pauses and allow your loved one extra time to think and respond. They need extra processing time to understand and create a response. Try not to complete their thoughts or finish their sentences, but rather let them collect their thoughts and speak on their own.
- Use specific vocabulary, rather than non-specific words such as “it” or “he/she/they”. Rather, identify the object using its specific name or person’s name. Additionally, avoid using sarcasm as this type of figurative language is difficult for your loved one to understand.
- During a conversation with more than one speaker, take turns speaking while providing extra processing time.
- Use external aids as appropriate. Use of calendars, photos, and memory books may help orient your loved one to the topic on hand, helping them communicate.
Natalie Keller, M.A., CF- SLP
**If you have any questions concerning your loved one and their communication, please contact Curlee Communication Consultants at (865) 693-5622. We have a team of experienced speech-language pathologists that would love discuss options for your family. **