We all need to communicate and this does not stop if we or someone we know develops dementia. It is important to interact with others and that is one of the key strengths of being human. So don’t wait until you need to communicate something, find time to be together; it can be a lonely place living with dementia. Why not spend time looking at something together (a bible passage/a familiar biblical story) , listen to some music or sing a hymn, watch the birds in the garden, spend time with a pet. Sharing experiences together is so important.
Key Actions to optimise all types of communication
Make sure that if the person with dementia uses hearing aids or glasses they are wearing them and they are on
Cut out background noise and other sensory distractions
Allow time for the person to tune in to what is happening. Sit down, get comfortable, remove distractions. Things like background music, can be very distracting and disturbing for a person with dementia.
Make sure the lighting is good. Make sure that you position things where the person can see or reach them
Focus on one thing at a time and try to cut down on the number of words, pictures, gestures etc. you use
Align writing to the left on a page or screen whilst using a large, plain font on a pale background
Try to reduce the use of images, pop ups, diagrams or infographics. What can be used to make documents more interesting and engaging, can be very confusing to someone who has dementia. If you do use them try to make sure they're relevant, clear and sparsely used.
Slow the pace of animations and videos and if the person you are with is struggling to keep up don't be afraid to use the pause button.