How to talk to someone with dementia

It can be difficult to know how to approach situations when a loved one is living with dementia, and sometimes communication can become difficult.

For people living with dementia, trying to communicate can be frustrating or upsetting, as they can struggle to think of the words to use. With some types of dementia, communication can also become physically difficult. Read on to find out about some things to remember when talking to someone with dementia.

Dementia affects a person’s memory and thinking, among other things. Sometimes, talking about the past may be tricky – whether this be discussing shared experiences, things that happened earlier in the day or more complex topics such as past bereavement. For a person living with dementia, open-ended questions may cause anxiety or stress as they may struggle to recall the information that is being asked of them. Such questions may include “What did you have for breakfast?”

If a person living with dementia is not able to remember that a loved one has passed away, they may ask about them. Being told that their loved one has passed away can be distressing and the individual may respond as if they are being told for the first time.

If you are trying to communicate with a person living with dementia, we recommend reading this article by Alzheimers’ Society which offers some helpful pointers on phrases to avoid: What not to say to somebody with dementia | Alzheimer’s Society (

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