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Health Information and Tools > Speech, Language and Hearing > Language >  Tips for Communicating with Someone Who Has Dementia
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Tips for Communicating with Someone Who Has Dementia

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  • ​​​​​​​​​Reduce the number of distractions. Turn off the television or radio.
  • Make eye contact. This shows who’s speaking and lets the person watch your face for information.
  • Use gentle touch to get attention.
  • Keep information short and to the point. Use gestures or pictures if they are helpful.
  • Say important things twice to help the person stay focused.
  • Be patient. Give the person extra time to answer.
  • Give the person choices instead of asking open-ended questions (e.g., “Would you like a sandwich or soup?” instead of “What do you want for lunch?”). This can help when a person seems to be struggling to answer or come up with ideas.
  • Try making a suggestion if the person doesn’t answer a question ​(e.g., “The soup looks good today. It’s your favourite.”)​.
  • Try making comments instead of asking too many questions. For example, while looking at a photo album, say, “This is Uncle Fred. He’s riding his tractor.” instead of “Who’s that?” or “What’s he doing?”.
  • Write reminders and steps on how to do things (e.g., where to keep items, turn off your hearing aid at night).
  • Use calendars and memory books to help the person to remember and to talk about memories with healthcare providers and visitors.
  • Leave a diary for visitors to write notes about their visits. ​​

Where to go get help

For more information about how speech-language pathologists and audiologists can help, contact:

  • Your doctor, public health nurse, or other health provider
  • Your local health centre

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