Communicating effectively

Living with Dementia

Useful Information 


View Care Homes

In addition to memory, dementia can alter a person’s perception and emotions. When a loved one is experiencing these effects of dementia, it can be quite difficult for family and friends to communicate with them. Learn about some common dementia-related scenarios and how to overcome communication challenges with your loved one. 


If your loved one’s sense of time is distorted

  • Sometimes the best response is to simply accept that your loved one believes they are living in the past
  • If your loved one appears to be in another time and place
  • Avoid attempting to bring them to your reality - the facts won’t change their perception
  • Acknowledge them and introduce yourself
  • Ask if you can spend time together

If your loved one is angry

  • When approaching someone who appears angry or aggressive, stay at least five feet away.
  • Be careful about approaching face-to-face or making direct eye contact - this can be misconstrued as threatening and may cause them to lash out.
  • Establish trust before moving closer to your loved one, in order to help prevent injury.
  • Avoid appearing controlling. Give them time, excuse yourself and approach again later.


If you are unsure how to greet your loved one

  • Always smile, and approach from the front to prevent startling them.
  • Assess their body language before reaching out to make physical contact.
  • If they recognise you by sight, use your usual greeting for them.
  • If they don’t recognise you, call their name and introduce yourself by name. Don’t add a lot of details about your relationship, as this might be overwhelming.


If they fail to recognise you

  • Don’t force the issue or repeat your name over and over again - this will only create frustration and confusion.
  • Remain calm, try to make eye contact and discuss something you know they like or find comforting.
We use cookies to give you the best possible experience of our website. Some of the cookies we use identify your browsing habits and enable us to show you other content and products relevant to your interests. If you continue, we'll assume you're happy for your web browser to receive all cookies from our website. See our privacy policy  for more information on cookies and how to manage them.