Respectful Discourse with a Person Who Has Memory Loss

Isabella’s father-in-law, who lives in Mission Hills, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s three years ago. When she comes to Kansas City to visit, she finds herself at a loss when visiting with him over holidays. She doesn’t want to say the wrong thing, or agitate him in any way. Instead, she finds herself avoiding him so as not to make things worse, but at the end of the day, she doesn’t feel great about that either.

Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Lewy Body, and other forms of dementia have varying characteristics, but they all can result in dementia in an adult. Here are some tips for talking with someone who has memory loss.

  • Choose a quiet spot for a chat. The less distraction, the more likely you’ll be heard and understood.
  • Keep sentences short and simple. A single topic is easier for a person with dementia to track.
  • Ask yes or no questions (“Do you want to see some photos?”), as opposed to open-ended questions (“What did you do today?”).
  • Re-phrasing questions, rather than repeating them can be effective.
  • Relaxed body language can make a person with dementia feel more comfortable.
  • Saying, “Don’t you remember?’ doesn’t help. Casually mentioning the topic or situation again works to prompt memory.
  • If the person is tired or overwhelmed, sitting beside with him or her could provide just the right amount of engagement.

The professional caregivers at Thoughtful Care can help a person with memory loss feel more comfortable. Having a professional caregiver during family events can make communicating with your loved one easier. Contact us today for more information.

*Identities have been changed.