September 18, 2023

Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease: Communication Do’s and Don’ts

Family & Caregiver, Memory & Brain Health, Senior Health & Wellness

When a loved one is diagnosed with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, it impacts the entire family. Dementia sufferers lose the ability to be self-sufficient, affecting many people in the process. Along with the nearly 7 million people living with Alzheimer’s or dementia, millions more provide the emotionally, financially, and physically stressful job of being a caregiver. Learning to understand dementia can be difficult for anyone to tackle. 

As the disease progresses your loved one will have trouble communicating like they used to. The middle stages of dementia, which last the longest, are typically where communication breakdowns begin to occur. There are a number of tried and true methods that support and foster communication and clarity between you and your loved one. For more in-depth information on recognizing the beginning stages of dementia or Alzheimer’s, please read our previous dementia post.

Communication Do’s and Don’ts

Confusion and uncertainty are major hurdles that become a part of everyday life with dementia. People sometimes feel stuck in their head and unable to clearly process their feelings or needs. Knowing how to navigate a potential communication breakdown is a valuable asset. Learning to recognize and work through moments of uncertainty or confusion will empower both you and your loved one. Here are some helpful tips we have learned along the way!


    • Extend empathy and compassion- try to put yourself in their shoes to understand  their needs
    • Give compliments       
    • Ask their opinion
    • Evaluate triggers- when a person feels overwhelmed it could be due to triggers: over stimulation, time of day and a distracting or overactive environment can contribute to feelings of overwhelm
    • Use Life Story facts to retell or weave into conversation- tell the person things about themselves they may have forgotten
    • Use their preferred name when retelling stories


    • Don’t extend blame- this might be confusing to the person and could lead to negativity or feelings of hopelessness
    • Don’t argue or correct- give gentle clues if something is wrong, but help them stay on track- argument and blame can make them feel defensive and shut down
    • Don’t directly address repetition- if the person is repeating themselves a lot, ask politely but approach with humor and lightheartedness
    • Avoid judgment
    • Don’t ask too many questions- this can be frustrating or confusing, use your best judgment to determine when questions are becoming overwhelming
    • Don’t explain too much or start too early- remember they may have trouble remembering for long periods of time- only give what information is needed at the time

Don’t Wait to Ask for Help – Utilize Local Services 

Even the most well resourced family will reach a point where additional support is required. Knowing when to seek help is important for maintaining a positive, supportive living environment. From a care perspective, waiting too long to transition can have both physical and mental risks. Care facilities and trained staff can alleviate some of the most challenging symptoms by giving the person living with dementia access to specialized therapeutic environments and care.

Era Living communities utilize Memory Care services to support resident’s with dementia and Alzheimer’s. Offered in a secure, home-like environment, Memory Care provides an enriching and safe environment for your loved one to continue living their life. Contact an Era Living representative to learn more.