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Talking to Someone with Cognitive Decline

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Senior Citizens Matter

Link Generations provides education to all age groups about aging. The more you know and understand about what someone else is experiencing, the more comfortable you will be interacting with him or her.

Tips on Talking to Someone with Cognitive Decline

  1. Be Present. Be in the moment. Avoid the urge to fill silences. Sit quietly using nonverbal communication like smiling or holding hands.
  2. Avoid Distractions. Try to find a place where there are limited distractions. This gives the person a chance to focus all mental energy on the conversation.
  3. Speak clearly and naturally in a warm and calm voice. Refrain from ‘babytalk’ or other condescending tones.
  4. Talk about one thing at a time.
  5. Listen actively. If you don’t understand something being said, do not argue. It is fine to let delusions and misstatements go.
  6. Have patience. Give the person extra time to process what is being said.
  7. Understand there will be good days and bad days. While the general trend of someone with cognitive decline is downward, people with dementia will have ups and downs just like everyone.