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Dotty's Ten Tips for Communicating with a Person Living with Dementia

Posted Apr 30 2013 11:26am
Up here we keep wondering, why you don't you just start helping us live our lives instead of worrying about all the stuff you can't control?

By Dorothy DeMarco
+Alzheimer's Reading Room  


Dotty, age 95
June 29, 2011
Hi, I'm back, did you miss me? Yeah, I'm still sittin' up here on my cloud.

Once I get done giving you some advice from an actual person that lived with Alzheimer's, I am going to go eat. You never get hungry up here.

You know, as I look down on y'all I keep coming to the same conclusion, you really don't have a clue on how to deal with someone living with dementia.

Try takinmg a few deep breaths and keeping it simple.

Bobby believes that Alzheimer's patients are capable of more than most people can imagine. Well he is right about that. That's my boy Bobby.

Up here we keep wondering, why you don't you just start helping us live our lives instead of worrying about all the stuff you can't control?

Here are 10 communications tips you can use to help improve the life of both you, and the person living with dementia. Please note, I used the word living.

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What a person living with dementia would tell you if they could.


  1. You know what makes me feel safe, secure, and happy? A smile.
  2. Did you ever conside this? When you get tense and uptight it makes me feel tense and uptight.
  3. Instead of getting all bent out of shape when I do something that seems perfectly normal to me, and perfectly nutty to you, why not just smile at me? It will take the edge off the situation all the way around.
  4. Please try to understand and remember it is my short term memory, my right now memory, that is gone -- don't talk so fast, or use so many words.
  5. You know what I am going to say if you go off into long winded explanations on why we should do something? I am going to say No, because I can never be certain if you are asking me to do something I like, or drink a bottle of castor oil. So I'll just say No to be safe.
  6. Slow down. And don't sneak up on me and start talking. Did I tell you I like smiles?
  7. Make sure you have my attention before you start blabbering away. What is going to happen if you start blabbering away and you don't have my attention, or confuse me? I am going to say No - count on it.
  8. My attention span and ability to pay attention are not as good as they once were, please make eye contact with me before you start talking. A nice smile always gets my attention. Did I mention that before?
  9. Sometimes you talk to me like I am a child or an idiot. How would you like it if I did that to you? Go to your room and think about this. Don't come back and tell me you are sorry, I won't know what you are talking about. Just stop doing it and we will get along very well, and probably better than you think.
  10. You talk too much, instead try taking my hand and leading the way. I need a guide not a person to nag me all the time.
For those of you that never heard me sing before, here I am at age 95 singing "I'm Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter." The song was first recorded and made popular by Fats Waller in 1935.

What do you think?


Dotty went to Heaven on May 25, 2012.

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