Tips for talking to somebody with dementia

The HSE have launched ‘Understand Together’, a campaign for dementia awareness.

Here are some speech therapy tips to make conversations a little easier when talking to somebody with dementia.

The FOCUSED programme

F = Face
o Face the person directly
o Call him or her by name
o Touch the person
o Gain and maintain eye contact

O = Orient
o Orient the person to the topic by repeating key words
o Simplify and shorten sentences
o Use names of objects and people

C = Continue
o Restate the topic throughout the conversation
o Use signals when you are starting a new topic

U = Unstick
o Help the person by suggesting the word he/she is looking for
o Repeat the person’s sentence using the correct word
o Ask, “Do you mean?”

S = Structure
o Structure your questions giving choices
o Provide two simple choices at a time
o Use yes or no questions

E = Exchange
o Keep up normal everyday conversation by taking turns talking
o Keep conversation going by saying, “That’s great” or “Tell me more”
o Do not “test” them by asking questions such as, “What day is it” or “Who is our Prime Minister?” Instead ask questions like, “Did you have a dog when you were growing up?”
o Give the person clues about how to answer your question

D = Direct
o Keep sentences short, simple and direct
o Put the subject of the sentences first
o Use and repeat nouns (names of people/things) rather than pronouns (he/she/it)
o Use hand gestures, pictures, and facial expressions


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