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Things to Talk About with Dementia Patients

Talking can be a bit challenging when your conversational partner has Alzheimer’s disease or some other form of dementia. The prospect of interacting with someone who repeats themselves or doesn’t predictably follow standard social conventions can be daunting at first. However, these seniors often have fantastic stories that they’re delighted to share with you if you can just get them chatting. Having a handy list of things to talk about with dementia patients ensures that you’re never left waiting in awkward silence.

Things to Talk About with Dementia Patients

Dementia may change a person, but they’re still your loved one. In the initial stages of dementia, you won’t need to think much about the way you interact. However, as it progresses, using a few simple strategies can make spending time with your loved one much more pleasant for both of you.

When talking with a dementia patient, start by being a good listener. As Mayo Clinic advises, don’t correct them unless it’s absolutely necessary. Be patient, respectful, and connected. Stay calm, keep your comments simple, and offer choices so that they don’t get overwhelmed. What can you talk about? When it comes to things to talk about with dementia patients, the possibilities are almost endless.

Remember When . . .

Asking a dementia patient to share their version of an event or memory is a great way to launch a conversation. Whether it’s inviting them to tell you where they were when a notoriously bad storm swept through the area or encouraging them to share their version of a family camping trip that went hilariously wrong, giving them a chance to shine in the role of storyteller with an open-ended question allows the dementia patient to take the reins of the conversation. Take care not to quiz them. Don’t worry about correcting details that they get wrong. Doing so will break the flow and lead to frustration. Just let them tell the story, and enjoy the fun.

Tell Me More About . . .

Inviting a dementia patient to tell you about a person or place that’s special to them can be a solid conversation starter. It’s also a fascinating way to learn more about their family tree and history. Although it might not be the fastest way to gather facts, taking the time to wander patiently along the conversational byways with a senior with dementia can paint a rich picture of the past. After all, every patient’s experience is different, but long-term memories are often relatively unaffected. As a result, patients who struggle with recent events may be able to relate tales from their pasts with amazing detail.

Invite an Exchange of Opinions or Advice

People often love to be asked for their opinion, and having dementia rarely changes that. Whether it’s about the painting on the wall, the pattern on the couch, the sweater that you’re wearing, or what the weather has been like lately, inviting someone with dementia to share their thoughts can quickly start a conversation. Remember that patients with more advanced dementia are sometimes less filtered, so be prepared for bluntness. To keep the conversation going, ask for tips or encourage them to share memories about related times or topics. There are many conversational avenues to follow. Simply choose one that seems interesting.

Bring Props

Some people feel uncomfortable showing up for a social gathering empty-handed. If you’re one of them, bring a prop the next time that you come to visit your loved one. It might set the stage for an excellent conversation. There are numerous things you could bring:

  • Photo albums
  • Book to read together
  • Music to listen to together
  • Address book
  • Yearbook
  • Recipe box or cookbook
  • Collectibles
  • Postcards
  • Board game
  • Jigsaw puzzle
  • Craft
  • Snacks to share

There’s no shortage of subjects to talk about with dementia patients. With a little imagination, some patience, and a willingness to be inclusive, you’ll find that conversations can travel in virtually any direction.

Are you looking for an assisted living, memory support, and physician-directed nursing care community in Kansas City? Check out The Piper. Our team of experienced and compassionate professionals ensures that residents feel secure and comfortable right away. At our warm and welcoming community, which is truly a “home within a home,” we foster social interaction, engagement, and the right amount of care. Our residents always come first. To learn more about our services or to schedule a tour, please give us a call at 913-361-5136 or contact us online.