A person with dementia can live in moments of time far removed from the present. They can struggle to remember much-loved family members, yet recall experiences from decades ago – all of which can make communication a challenge.

At Care UK we care for over 7,000 older people in our care homes, many of whom are living with a dementia. Families often ask  our advice about how best to communicate with their loved one.

Positive and meaningful communication with a person who is living with dementia is absolutely possible, and our ‘Listen, talk, connect’ guide is full of tips to help make interactions rewarding – for both of you.

Here are a few tips to help you get started…

Living for the moment

Not feeling listened to can be very frustrating for a person living with dementia. Establish where they are in that moment: if they think it’s 1955, don’t ignore them or try to bring them back to the present, join them in the moment by asking about that time. Smile, hold eye contact and nod in encouragement.

Dealing with difficult requests

If a person says they want to go home, rather than saying “this is your home now”, which may scare and confuse them, ask where home is and their memories of it. Help them to relive happy experiences.

Do what you say you will

To someone living with dementia “see you later” means just that. If you don’t return “later” they can get very upset – especially if they are lonely. Think about how your words could be interpreted and try to be as literal with your choice of phrases as possible.

Communication isn’t just about conversation

We can all appreciate the simple pleasures in life, whatever our state of health - such as good food, hot baths and fresh air. Sometimes, the best way to communicate with someone is to simply do something they love doing – and you like doing with them.

‘Listen, talk, connect’ is just one of Care UK’s many free guides for family carers.

To browse and download our other handy guides visit careuk.com/support-for-carers or call us on 0330 057 3741.

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Care UK is a leading provider of residential care for older people in the UK. Our Fulfilling lives approach to care and quality guides us in caring for over 7,000 residents in 115 care homes nationwide. We deliver day and respite care, nursing, end of life and specialist dementia care.