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What not to say to somebody with dementia



Depending on the circumstance, words can be encouraging and uplifting as well as upsetting and infuriating. Here, we examine several phrases and inquiries to attempt to steer clear of when conversing with a dementia patient.


Language and communication can become more challenging over time for someone with dementia. Each person with dementia will experience distinct challenges as the disease advances. Their dementia's type and stage will also be important. The words that other people use are crucial as well, even though the person with the condition may struggle to find the correct phrase. For someone with dementia to live successfully, good communication might be essential. These are a few phrases and inquiries you might want to steer clear of in conversation. 7 things to avoid saying to somebody with dementia 1. 'Remember when...?' Although it may be alluring to attempt to spark a person with dementia's memory, this type of query frequently serves as a reminder of memories lost. It may occasionally seem as though the subject is being put to the test. There is no proof that prodding the person in this way would help them remember or retain memories, and it can be a difficult or traumatic experience. While talking about the past can be enjoyable and reassuring, it's usually best to take the initiative and invite the other person to join you. Maybe, try this: Instead of posing a question, try leading with ‘I remember when…’. That way, the person can search their memory calmly without feeling embarrassed, then join in if they like. 2. 'I've just told you that' It can be difficult answering the same question several times, especially when you are trying to keep frustration or upset from your voice. However, reminding the person that you have just answered their question will not help them retain the information for next time, it is likely to just remind them of their condition. This can be distressing for you both. Try this instead: Try to answer repeated questions calmly and patiently. If you feel the need, take a break, and remove yourself from the conversation for a while. Remember that the person cannot help repeating themselves, and it is important for them to feel heard and understood.

3. 'Your brother died 10 years ago' A person with dementia could forget about a previous loss or enquire about a deceased individual. They may react as though hearing the news for the first time all over again when you remind them of the death of a loved one because it can be quite traumatic. Different situations will require various responses to these kinds of challenging questions, but it's always crucial to be kind and lessen any distress. Instead, try this: Avoiding the question should be avoided since it could make the person feel more uncomfortable. Some people may find comfort in being urged to talk about the subject of their enquiry. Find out how the person is feeling, sometimes asking about a particular family member or friend is due to the person having an unmet need. 4. 'What did you do this morning?' A person with dementia may find it stressful if you ask them too many open-ended questions about the past since they may not be able to remember the answers. Even while it could seem nice to enquire about someone's day, it's preferable to pay attention to the current situation. Instead, try this: Instead of asking them about their day, briefly describe yours before allowing them to ask you any questions. Then, they might divulge details on their actions. Use the environment's furnishings, such as photos or ornaments, to spark conversation while talking to them about the present. 5. 'Do you recognise me?' When a person with dementia doesn't recognise you, especially if you have a close relationship with them, it can be upsetting. Keep in mind that they may find it upsetting to not recognise others around them. If you ask someone whether they know who you are, they could feel awkward or guilty if they don't or offended if they do. Instead, try this: Depending on the stage of their health, the way you welcome someone with dementia may differ; make your own assessment, but keep it friendly. Your name and your relationship to them, together with a sincere greeting, might be helpful. 6. 'Let’s have a cup of tea now, then after that we can go for nice walk and get lunch in that café you like in town.’ For a person with dementia, long, complex statements can be challenging to comprehend. Giving guidance or instructions step-by-step is preferable because cognitive abilities deteriorate with age, making it challenging to grasp multiple thoughts at once. Instead, try this: As much as possible, use brief, straightforward sentences. Avoid speaking in noisy settings and hold off on starting a discussion until you have the other person's full attention. 7. 'Do you need some help with that, love?' For those with dementia, words like "love," "honey," and "dear" can occasionally come out as condescending. This is especially true if they were not referred to in this manner prior to developing dementia. This is sometimes known as "elderspeak," and it can make elderly adults feel like children. Instead, try this: Always keep in mind the person suffering from dementia, and wherever possible, refer to them by name. This helps them maintain their dignity and improves focus.

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