The Dos and Don’ts of Dementia Communication

ConversationCommunicating with a loved one with dementia can be difficult at times. A person suffering from dementia is experiencing a loss of memories, communication skills, and the ability to care for themselves. This can lead to frustration on both sides. Additionally, people with dementia experience personality shifts and mood swings, which can add another layer to the challenge of communication. In order to avoid hurting your loved one's feelings or having your own feelings hurt in a conversation, it is important to understand how to properly communicate with someone with dementia. The following 18 tips of Dos and Don'ts from will help guide you through communication.


  1. Avoid becoming frustrated.
  2. Keep communication short, simple, and clear.
  3. Tell your loved one who you are.
  4. Call your loved one by name.
  5. Speak slowly.
  6. Ask close-ended questions with "yes" or "no" responses.
  7. Use a distraction or fib if telling the truth will upset your loved one.
  8. Repeat yourself when necessary.
  9. Smile, make eye contact, and use touch to maintain your loved one's attention.


  1. Say things like "Did you forget?" "How could you not remember?"
  2. Ask questions that challenge short-term memory.
  3. Talk in paragraphs.
  4. Point out the person's memory difficulty.
  5. Speak in front of them as if they were not present.
  6. Use lots of pronouns. For example, instead of saying "She told me…," say, "The nurse told me…." 
  7. Use slang or unfamiliar words.
  8. Use patronizing language.
  9. Use sarcasm or irony that may cause confusion.


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