How to Talk to Someone with Dementia

Written by Active Minds on Thursday the 25th of October 2018.


For many of us, especially when a loved one has been recently diagnosed with dementia, or are in the later stages of the illness when communication becomes more difficult, knowing how to talk to someone with dementia can be a daunting prospect. However, engaging a loved one in conversation is incredibly important, making them feel loved, noticed, listened to and cared for, as well as ensuring they keep socialising, integral for their mental health.

If you are struggling to know how to approach your loved one, take a look at our tips on how to talk to someone with Dementia:


This is key! As frustrated as you may feel, it is essential that you remain calm during any conversation. Any irritation you display can cause your loved one to start to feel agitated, and they may retreat and refuse to engage. Give your loved one time and space to respond, do not hurry or interrupt them.

Speak In A Clear Voice

Ensure you speak in a clear, calm voice.

Don’t Patronise

Avoid baby talk or talking down to your loved one.

Use Specifics

When talking about other people, rather than using ‘him’ or ‘her’, refer to people by their actual names during conversation.

Find A Quiet Space

This is especially important for someone who struggles with agitation and stress. Find a quiet place to talk, away from loud noises and distractions that may confuse or distress your loved one, allowing them to fully concentrate on your conversation.

Include An Activity

If you find that your loved one struggles with one-to-one conversation, try to reduce any agitation or discomfort by focusing your interaction around an activity or game. This will give your chat a focus, and the activity may even help trigger memories you can discuss.

Hold Hands

Touch is an incredibly powerful tool, ensuring that a person with dementia feels safe and secure. Whilst talking, if appropriate, hold their hand, helping them to feel calm as well as listened to.