Six Communication Tips for Speaking to a Loved One with Dementia

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.

Communication Tips:

  1. 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.


  1. 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.


  1. 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. 


  1. 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.


  1. During a conversation with more than one speaker, take turns speaking while providing extra processing time.


  1. 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. **