Strategies for Communicating with Loved Ones with Memory Loss

African American female communicating with senior woman living with dementia, sitting in living room holding hands and listening to her carefully

Communicating with a loved one living with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia presents challenges that can lead to frustration and misunderstandings on both sides of the conversation. To help avoid confusion, it’s imperative for caregivers to exercise patience and practice active listening and speaking strategies.

The following tips from the Mayo Clinic will help improve how you communicate with your loved one while benefitting their cognitive and emotional outlook, building a stronger bond, and making the most of each interaction.

  • Always be patient. Listen closely and allow enough time for your loved one to talk uninterrupted.
  • Know what to expect. Your loved one may have trouble remembering words or communicating clearly. They may repeat phrases or ideas or mix unrelated thoughts together.
  • Try to understand what your loved one is saying based on the context and use surrounding information to interpret the meaning. If they are struggling to formulate an idea, have them point to an object or have them walk you to show you what they are trying to communicate.
  • Maintain eye contact while speaking and always call your loved one by their name.
  • Use nonverbal actions to show support, such as gestures, visual cues, and other body language.
  • If your loved one is having trouble expressing themselves, be patient and calm as they navigate through the conversation, and always be kind and encouraging.
  • Avoid using baby talk, and don’t talk down to your loved one or as if they were not there.
  • Limit visual distractions and background noise, which can make it difficult to hear or concentrate.
  • Use short sentences, ask yes or no questions, and break down requests into single steps.
  • Speak clearly and calmly. Take a break if you get frustrated, and avoid criticizing, correcting, or arguing. Never ask them, “do you remember” or “don’t you remember.”

At Jackson Creek Senior Living, our memory support community helps individuals living with Alzheimer’s or dementia according to each resident’s individual care plan, which is determined prior to move-in. Our knowledgeable team members use proven strategies to communicate with residents and help them develop and refine their cognitive skills, form meaningful new relationships, and take advantage of dynamic programming offering socialization, stimulation and engagement.

In addition to receiving top-quality care, residents with memory loss have access to a secure, home-like neighborhood, comfortable dining, living, and activity rooms, three chef-prepared meals a day, medication assistance, and daily living support, with experienced team members on staff for true peace of mind.

At Jackson Creek Senior Living, we’re committed to supporting seniors in our community to live well and age well. Call us at 719-259-1331 to learn more about our independent and assisted living and memory support services for those 62+.

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