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Caring for adults
Caring for adults

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4.1 Dementia

You may be caring for a person or people with any of the various forms of dementia, and the Alzheimer’s Society [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] website is very helpful with advice and support, but below is an article from the Alzheimer’s Association of America that has some very clear information about communicating with people with dementia. You will learn more about cognitive disorders such as dementia in Section 2, Mental health awareness.

Activity 10

Timing: Allow about 20 minutes

Read Communication and Alzheimer’s, an article from the Alzheimer’s Association. Then answer the questions below.

  • What response is suggested if the person you are supporting cannot find a word?
  • Why should you keep trying to communicate, even when the person doesn’t respond?
  • How can improving your listening skills help you to communicate with someone with dementia?
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If the person uses the wrong word or cannot find a word, encourage them to ‘have a go’ but be careful not to cause unnecessary frustration. While a person with dementia may not always respond to your efforts to communicate, he or she still needs the stimulus of continued communication. There will be times when they will respond so it’s important to keep trying, although you should choose your words carefully.

By improving your listening skills you will be more likely to spot changes in a person’s ability to communicate. In the early stages of dementia, the person’s communication may not seem very different but as the condition progresses, you may recognise other changes such as using familiar words repeatedly or inventing new ones for familiar objects. The more closely you listen, the more likely you are to spot these signs and be able to help them to continue communicating as long as possible.