Patience, understanding and good listening skills make a big difference in communicating with a person with dementia. While the disease affects each person differently and progresses over time, here are some tips that can make it go better for both you and the individual.

  • Maintain a calm presence. Try not to let your anxiety show.
  • Engage the person one-on-one in a quiet space with few distractions. Maintain eye contact, at their level.
  • Talk slowly and clearly in an easy-going, pleasant manner.
  • Speak in short, simple sentences:
    • Use concrete terms and familiar words.
    • Limit choices by using yes/no and either/or questions.
    • Break a request into small, easy steps.
  • Allow time for response so the person can think about what he or she wants to say.
  • Be patient and supportive.
  • Avoid correcting or calling attention to repetitive comments. Listen for the meaning or feeling. Repeat what was said to clarify.
  • Avoid conflict. If you don’t agree, let it be. Find a way to join their reality (if it’s not hurting anyone), or distract them.
  • Give visual cues. Point or touch the item you want the individual to use. Or, begin the task for the person.
  • Written notes can be helpful when a spoken word seems confusing.

For more information visit Alzheimer’s Association website at or MN Act on Alzheimer’s at