Dementia Advice For Carers: Communicating with someone with dementia

Tips to help you communicate with a person who has dementia, whether you are a carer or a visiting friend or relative.

Tips to help you communicate with a person who has dementia, whether you are a carer or a visiting friend or relative.

If you are looking after someone who is newly diagnosed with dementia, here at Bluebird Care Calderdale and Bradford we know that communication challenges are likely to be at the forefront of your thoughts. Relatives who are visiting may also be looking for guidance on how to talk to the person with dementia. Below are some tips on communicating with a person who has dementia.

Dementia is an illness that is progressive in nature. As time goes by, it will affect a person's ability to remember and understand basic everyday facts, such as names, dates and places. Dementia will gradually affect the way they communicate.

The NHS recommends that if you are looking after a person with dementia, you may find that as the illness progresses you'll have to take the lead and start discussions to get the person to make conversation. Their ability to process information gets progressively weaker and their responses can become delayed.


Try to start conversations with the person you're looking after or spending time with, especially if you notice that they're starting fewer conversations themselves.

It always helps if you make a conscious effort to speak clearly and slowly, using short sentences and making eye contact with the person, both when you are speaking and when they're talking or asking questions.

Be patient and unhurried. In particular, give them time to respond. Don’t put them in a position where they feel pressured or where you’re trying to speed up their answers or answer for them. It’s very important to let them speak for themselves during discussions concerning their welfare or health and any treatments or actions that may result.

Try to encourage them to join in conversations with others, not just you, when there are people around.

Never patronise them, or ridicule what they say. Take care to acknowledge what they have said. They might not have answered your question and what they’ve said might seems unconnected with the flow of the conversation. But concentrate on showing them that you've heard and encourage them to say more and add to their answer.

Avoid providing too many options. Provide simple choices, simple language and short sentences. If they don’t immediately understand, try gently rephrasing your question. But, again, don’t hurry or harass them.

The more time you spend speaking to them, the better you will understand them and, if they are having trouble communicating, your time and patience may allow you to spot the meaning behind their words.

Avoid challenging their memories. For example, don’t ask them about what they have been doing recently. But, also, avoid getting into arguments about what they’ve said, even if you think they are wrong. Tripping them up or correcting them may cause confusion or distress. Listen and acknowledge what they have said.

If you are spending time with them, you can help them to create a memory book, full of photos of special times, like holidays, weddings and birthdays. This will help them to remember, but will also give any professional carers or health workers something to understand them by and a shared topic of conversation.

How to find the right care for you or your relative

1. Find your local office

Bluebird Care delivers care from locally based offices, find yours to start your care journey today.

2. Get in touch with us

Fill in our call back form or give us a call to find out how we can help you.

3. Assessment

We’ll come out to you to find out what you or your loved one needs to help stay independent at home.

4. Care team chosen & care starts

You'll be cared for by our specially trained team to support you to remain at home for as long as possible.

Contact Us