Learn how to communicate with a person with dementia


How people with dementia communicate will change over the course of the disease. For example, people with dementia might ask the same questions over and over, or say things that don't make sense.


Family and others close to the person with dementia can connect with them by using different approaches. For example, communication might:

  • Use tone of voice, facial expressions, eye contact, gestures, touch or other nonverbal cues to emphasize the meanings of words

  • Involve asking one question or giving one piece of information at a time

  • Include repeating and rephrasing information

  • Become more about sharing feelings and impressions than about getting information or taking care of tasks

  • Emphasize sharing experiences and spending time together

  • Take more time and willingness to try different things

  • Require understanding that what "works" might change, from day to day or from hour to hour

As people with dementia have more trouble talking, they often use emotions and actions to communicate. For example, a person with dementia who seems angry might be communicating that they are in pain or feel sick, scared or sad.


Even when people with dementia have trouble communicating or seem not to respond, they benefit from others interacting with them.