11 tips for better conversations when caring for someone with dementia

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Despite the deterioration of mind and memory, the essence of someone’s spirit and their best personality qualities often remain right until the end.

Alzheimer’s is a disease that affects over 520,000 people in the UK.

It is a disease that affects the brain, most commonly in the over 65s age group. While there are plenty of ways that loved ones with it will retain their personality traits, when visiting people with Alzheimer's, it is important to bear some things in mind.

These tips will help you talk to someone with dementia so that you both get the most out of the conversation

✢ Make eye contact

It’s vital they see you, so try to be at the same level as their head. Don’t stand or hover over them.

✢ Speak slowly

Halve your normal speed, ideally, and take a breath between sentences so they can catch up.

ThisDementiaAction Week, it’s time to start talking. Find out more atalzheimers.org.uk/DAW

✢ Avoid the R word (remember)

They may feel angry, insulted or embarrassed.

✢ Don’t talk down or correct them

They’re not children.

✢ Validate their feelings

Phrases like “I can see you’re angry/sad/upset” may help them to feel less isolated.

✢ Take props

Photos or music may bring up happy memories.

✢ Allow them to repeat themselves

Let them tell the old stories on a loop. If they’re asking the same question over and over again, be patient and answer as if for the first time because for them, it feels like that.

✢ Keep visiting

Even if they don’t appear to know who you are, your contact may be vital to them.

✢ If they get agitated, change the activity or subject

Start afresh, there’s nothing to lose.

✢ Use their name frequently

In a subtle and natural manner.

✢ Ask first before touching them

Check before taking their hand in case they think you’re grabbing.


For help and information, contact Alzheimer’s Society at alzheimers.org.uk.

You'll find plenty more tips for helping you through this difficult time.

Lauren Hughes
Lauren Hughes

Lauren is deputy editor at woman&home.com in the UK and became a journalist mainly because she enjoys being nosy. With a background in features journalism, Lauren has worked on the woman&home brand for four years. Before woman&home Lauren worked across a variety of women's lifestyle titles, including GoodTo, Woman's Own, and Woman magazine. After starting out working for a local paper in Yorkshire, her journalism career took her to Bristol where she hunted out stories for national papers and magazines at Medavia news agency, before landing a job in London working as a lifestyle assistant.

Lauren loves helping people share their stories, bringing experiences to life online, honing her interview techniques with everyone from authors to celebrities, headteachers to local heroes. As well as having a good nose for a story, Lauren has a passion for the English language and years of experience optimizing digital content to reach the widest audience possible. During her time at w&h, Lauren has worked on big brand campaigns like the Amazing Women Awards and assisted in developing w&h expert-approved Buyer's Guides—the place to go if you're looking to splash out on an important purchase and want some trusted advice. In addition to her journalism career, Lauren also has a background in copywriting for prestigious brands such as Inhabit Hotel, eco-development K'in in Tulum, social enterprise The Goldfinger Factory and leading London architect Holland Harvey, using language in all its glorious forms, from detailed guidebooks to snappy social content. 

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