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Communication Strategies for a Loved One with Dementia

Dementia is a syndrome that is typically related to Alzheimer’s disease. Many symptoms make up what is known as dementia. The most commonly known symptoms affect cognitive abilities and can lead to memory loss and confusion.

This diagnosis can be devastating for families. The compassionate team at Santé takes great care in guiding families through the various stages of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Often the greatest hurdle for families is communication.

There are some communication strategies that may help when interacting with a loved one with dementia. These strategies can ease the difficulty of communicating and set realistic expectations for you and your loved one.


  • Always identify yourself


Identity yourself first when communicating with your loved one. Use your name and your relation to them.


  • Kindly repeat yourself if necessary


If you are met with confusion when conversing, kindly and calmly repeat yourself if you feel it is appropriate. It’s best not to display your frustration as that may escalate emotions.


  • Move to a new conversation topic


Moving to a new topic of conversation when there is difficulty conversing is one strategy you can use to help keep your loved one calm and content.


  • Incorporate hand gestures


When speaking, point to people and things, or act out the word you are saying, to help your loved one make the connection.


  • Convey emotions through touch, smell, sight or sound


Communicating doesn’t have to be all verbal. Use kind gestures to show your loved one how much you care, like baking them a batch of cookies or helping them clean their home.


  • Use eye contact when speaking


Eye contact is a communication strategy for establishing trust. It can be helpful when communicating with a loved one with dementia.


  • Avoid overstimulation


Have a conversation in a quiet, familiar space and use a calm voice.


  • Use simple language


Don’t ask difficult questions and use language that is simple and straightforward.


  • Listen intently


When your loved one is speaking, be patient and listen actively. Observe body language and pick up on emotional cues.


  • Speak with your heart


Always use an extra dose of love when communicating with someone with dementia.

At Santé, we offer an innovative approach to healthcare by healing the mind, body, and spirit. It’s our sincere hope that these tips will help you communicate with a loved one. For more information about our short-term rehab and home health services, call (480) 264-4568 or contact us online.

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