Page 29 - TalkingCareMagazine_Online Issue4
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 Other factors can affect a person with demen a's communica on, including pain, discomfort, illness or the side­ effects of medica on. If you suspect this might be happening, talk to their GP.
Tips: for communica ng
with someone with demen a
 Before you speak:
Make sure you're in a good place to talk ­ quiet, with good ligh ng and without too many distrac ons (e.g. no radio or TV on in the background).
Get the person's full a en on before you start.
Posi on yourself where the person can see you as clearly as possible (e.g. with your face well­lit) and try to be on the same level as the person, rather than standing over them.
Have enough  me to spend with the person. If you feel rushed or stressed, take some  me to calm down.
If there is a  me of day where the person will be more able to communicate (e.g. in the morning) try to use this  me to ask any ques ons or talk about anything you need to. Make the most of 'good' days and find ways to adapt on 'bad' ones.
How to speak:
Speak clearly and calmly.
Speak at a slightly slower pace, and allow  me between sentences for the person to process the informa on and respond. This might seem like an uncomfortable pause to you, but it is important for helping the person to communicate.
Avoid speaking sharply or raising your voice.
Use short, simple sentences.
Try to communicate with the person in a conversa onal way, not ques on a er ques on (it can feel like an interroga on).
What to say:
Try to avoid asking too many ques ons, or complicated ques ons. People with demen a can become frustrated or withdrawn if they can't find the answer.
Try to s ck to one idea at a  me. Giving someone a choice is important, but too many op ons can be confusing and frustra ng.
If the person is finding it hard to understand, consider breaking down what you're saying into smaller chunks so that it is more manageable.
Ask ques ons one at a  me, and phrase them in a way that allows for a 'yes' or 'no' answer (e.g. rather than asking someone what they would like to do, ask if they would like to go for a walk) or in a way that gives the person a choice (e.g. 'would you like tea or coffee?').
Rephrase rather than repeat, if the person doesn't understand what you're saying. Use non­verbal communica on to help (e.g. poin ng at a picture of someone you are talking about).
Listen carefully to what the person is saying, and offer encouragement.
If you haven't understood fully, rephrase what you have understood and check to see if you are right. The person's reac on and body language can be a good indicator of what they've understood and how they feel.
If the person with demen a has difficulty finding the right word or finishing a sentence, ask them to explain it in a different way. Listen out for clues. Also pay a en on to their body language. The expression on their face and the way they hold themselves can give you clear signals about how they are feeling.
Allow the person plenty of  me to respond ­ it may take them longer to process the informa on and work out their response. Don't interrupt the person as it can break the pa ern of communica on.
If a person is feeling sad, let them express their feelings. Do not dismiss a person's worries ­ some mes the best thing to do is just listen, and show that you are there.
Body language and physical contact:
Non­verbal communica on is very important for people with demen a, and as their condi on progresses it will become one of the main ways the person communicates. You should learn to recognise what a person is communica ng through their body language and support them to remain engaged and contribute to their quality of life.
A person with demen a will be able to read your body language. Sudden movements or a tense facial expression may cause upset or distress, and can make communica on more difficult.
Make sure that your body language and facial expression match what you are saying.
Never stand too close to someone or stand over them to communicate ­ it can feel in mida ng. Instead, respect the person's personal space and drop to or below their eye level. This will help the person to feel more in control of the situa on.
Use physical contact to communicate your interest and to provide reassurance ­ don't underes mate the reassurance you can give by holding the person's hand or pu ng your arm around them, if it feels appropriate.
                          It’s important to remember that however demen a is affec ng you, or someone you know, there are people here to help you. Alzheimer's Society is the UK's leading demen a charity. We provide informa on and support, fund research, campaign to improve care and create las ng change for people affected by demen a in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
 Alzheimer’s Society provides a Na onal Demen a Helpline, the number is 0300 222 11 22 or visit

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