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The best ways to talk to someone with dementia

  • 2 mins

According to Dementia Australia, dementia is described as “a collection of symptoms that are caused by disorders affecting the brain. It is not one specific disease.”

For those with a loved one living with dementia, navigating the everyday challenges can be confronting and many people don’t know where to start.

Inspiring and thought-provoking website, Upworthy, put together an article in late 2021 around the best ways to go about having positive and important conversations with those living with dementia.

There are a number of organisations that deal with different areas of dementia, including Alzheimer’s (one of the conditions that fall under the dementia umbrella).

An American psychologist, David McPhee, spoke on the question and answer platform Quora, about the best ways to navigate a loved one’s diagnosis with dementia.

“Enter into his reality and enjoy it. He doesn’t need to be ‘oriented’.

If dad spends most of his time in 1959, sit with him. Ask questions he didn’t have time for before.

Learn more about your grandparents. If he tells the same story over and over, appreciate it as if it’s music, and you keep coming back to the beautiful refrain.”

McPhee noted the encouragement of storytelling is not just about playing along but it is actually an “opportunity to communicate and treasure memories real but out of time.”

Dementia Australia also provides a number of resources for those who have been diagnosed with dementia as well as their loved ones, and being able to manage the changes that can occur when it comes to communication.

They walk you through the most common changes in communication including:

  • Difficulty in finding a word – a related word might be given instead of one they cannot remember
  • Writing and reading skills may also deteriorate
  • They may not be able to understand what you are saying or only be able to grasp part of it

Other important factors to consider include the attitudes of the loved ones that are projected onto the individual living with dementia, with Dementia Australia reminding people that a calm manner, patience and simplicity when talking to their loved ones can allow them to feel more understood and in control.

For more information from Dementia Australia on navigating the conversations with dementia, click here.

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