Listen, talk, connect has been put together by colleagues and those with personal experience of caring for loved ones, to assist relatives, friends and carers to continue having meaningful conversations with anyone living with dementia.
Listening is key when it comes to communicating with someone living with dementia. Not feeling listened to, or heard, can be a source of great anxiety and frustration to us all – and dementia will only amplify this. As carers and visitors, we have to listen carefully when we are talking to someone with dementia – and look for clues when the meaning isn’t immediately clear.
Download a copy of the Listen, talk, connect guide, or to order a printed copy please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
We’ve also created a short video that includes tips from the guide and tells the stories of relatives caring for loved ones living with dementia.
Meet Marion and Eric
Marion and Eric Green share a great love of music and use old wartime songs to help Eric cope with his dementia. Eric still remembers all the words to ‘Oh Danny Boy’ and other classics, and the singing invokes Eric’s memory and helps ease any tension and anxiety, a common symptom of dementia. See the duo in action in the film above.
Top tips for effective communication
Almost every day, somewhere in the UK somebody will say to us, “I wish I had known that before”. Dementia, of any form, is an incredibly complex disease that doctors are still struggling to fully understand. It is by understanding a few aspects of this disease that connecting with people living with dementia starts to become easier.
Having meaningful conversations
People tell us that, from time to time, they just don’t know how to start a conversation with someone living with dementia. By following a few simple tips, it is still possible to hold meaningful conversations with your loved one – and to avoid a rushed exchange ending in tears of frustration or disappointment.
Making the most of your visits to a care home
Whether you are visiting a loved one in a care home every day, or visiting an old friend once in a while because you miss seeing them over the garden fence, making the most of that time together is vital. Whatever your worries, there are simple steps that you can follow to make the most out of every visit.
People living with dementia respond very well to children, so never feel that you should leave your child at home when planning a trip to a care home. There are lots of things you can do with children to make a visit rewarding for young and old alike.
Coping with difficult conversations
Difficult conversations, caused by dementia, usually take two forms – either your loved one becomes angry or they forget where they are in time, asking to see people who are no longer with us. You can’t stop these moments from happening altogether but you can make them easier to cope with.
Don't forget to look after yourself
Caring for someone living with dementia can be rewarding at times - but it can be hard too. Make sure you have some time for yourself, don’t expect the impossible and do consider joining some support groups, calling on experts for help and asking friends and family members for their support too.
By sleeping at night, eating well, having a life outside of dementia care and having a support network, you will be able to communicate much more positively with the person you love. And that will make such a difference to you both.
Find out more about our dementia care service.
We would like to acknowledge that some material contained within our booklet Listen, talk, connect is accredited to a communication entitled ‘Communication and Mealtimes Toolkit’ written by Rebecca Kellett, formerly of Dumfries and Galloway Adult Speech and Language Therapy Service.