How to Talk to Someone with Dementia

Four seniors, three talking in background, one smiling at camera

If you have a loved one with dementia, you may feel a little anxious about visiting them, especially if you’ve never known someone with the condition before now. Learning how to talk to someone with dementia may feel intimidating, but as long as you focus on making good memories together, you’ll have a wonderful time with the person you love.

How to Talk to Someone with Dementia

If you have a senior loved one diagnosed with dementia, you know that visits from friends and family are strongly encouraged. Social interactions can help individuals with dementia feel secure and loved and may even help slow the effects of the condition. Learning how to talk to someone with dementia is easy as long as you lead with love.

Make Sure They’re Comfortable

To get your conversation started on the right foot, it’s a good idea to take some steps to make your loved one comfortable. Ensure your discussion takes place in a quiet, well-lit area without distractions. If a certain time of day is easier for your loved one, such as early mornings and afternoons, that’s a great time to plan a visit. Keep visits brief initially, and be ready to end the conversation if they appear too tired or agitated.

Plan for Your Conversation

Because people with dementia sometimes have cognitive difficulties, you can make things easier for them by planning something to guide your conversation. Props like photos of family members can prompt discussion topics, as can simple check-ins about your senior loved one’s daily life. Avoid complex questions or agitating subjects. Don’t push too hard, and don’t get frustrated if a certain topic doesn’t pan out. There’s always next time!

Take Your Time

Individuals with dementia tend to communicate slowly and may need additional time to process and respond to your words. Plan your visits for when you’ll have plenty of time to spend together so nobody feels rushed or stressed out. State your questions or comments as simply as possible, and allow pauses in the conversation to happen naturally. If your loved one is struggling to find a word, encourage them to describe what they’re thinking, but give them time to figure it out independently. The less you interrupt their train of thought, the easier it will likely be for them to communicate with you.

Be an Active Listener

Conversational difficulties are a common symptom of dementia, so your senior loved one may need to rely on non-verbal communication to get their point across. Listen actively by making eye contact and nodding to show engagement with what they say. Pay attention to their body language for additional clues about their meaning and demeanor.

Lead with Empathy

The most crucial advice we can share for communicating with someone with dementia is to think about what would make conversations easier for you if you were in their shoes. What kind of help would you need? How would you want to be treated? Thinking about those questions will lead you to be patient, treat your loved one with respect, and help you focus on finding fun and joy in your visits.


When you’re learning how to have a conversation with someone with dementia, professional support can make a difference. A memory care community can give you that support.

If you hope to retire in Jacksonville Beach, Florida, the Beach House could be the ideal place. Our friendly and compassionate staff members offer individualized care 24/7, ensuring the safety, security, and happiness of all residents. The Beach House provides assisted living, memory care, and respite care. Most importantly, we tailor these services to suit the unique needs of each resident. To learn more about our amenities or schedule a tour, please get in touch with us online or give us a call at 904-615-8076. We look forward to hearing from you!