Communication and Dementia

Leading Nutrition’s dietitians are regularly involved in attending, learning and updating their knowledge with professional development events. Adele, our Brisbane Aged Care dietitian has recently attended a professional development event on Communication and Dementia, run by Alzheimer’s Association Queensland. Adele has provided us a summary of tips and considerations that we should all remind ourselves of when trying to communicate with residents with dementia. Thanks Adele!

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Helpful communication strategies:

  • Say less: use key simple words or use only the important words
  • Stress: use of tone, expression and volume in addition to the content
  • Speak slowly
  • Show: using actions/props, facial expressions, eye contact to convey your message
  • Remember that communication for people with dementia is significantly non-verbal.

  • Caring attitude: identify yourself rather than expect that they remember or know who you are, give the person time, don’t correct/argue, concentrate on what they’re saying
  • Clear speech: short and simple sentences, 1 instruction at a time, emphasise key words, monitor tone and volume
  • Body language: open and approachable, maintain eye contact, try to read their tone and body language
  • Wording: talk in adult language, familiar vocabulary, simple questions (yes/no, choice of 2 options such as “would you like to taste the cheese sandwich or the ham sandwich?”)
  • Environment: ensuring that their environment is safe and familiar, generally quiet with minimal noises, reduce unnecessary stimulation (e.g. other co-residents, too many lights, pets, TV, kitchen noises), ensure residents have their glasses or hearing aids if they usually require these