By Nancy Ludin The majority of older adults in their late eighties and above have some form of memory-loss. Conversing with someone who has dementia is fraught with challenges. Firstly, try to understand what your loved ones are saying. The essence of their thoughts is what matters. Try not to correct their vocabulary, grammar or word usage. When an elderly person forgets a word, you can help fill it in, but do not do it constantly. If you correct someone too many times, the individual will develop a fear of conversation and shut down. If you truly do not comprehend the thoughts your loved one is trying to share, try asking questions and paraphrase until you come to an understanding. As dementia, sets in this may no longer be possible.
When someone has Alzheimer’s Disease, the ability to converse is lost over time. It is still important to show your love by pretending to engage in dialogue. You may say things like “really” or “I did not know that” or “tell me more.” As conversational skills decrease, you can keep them alive by having a fabricated discussion. At the point in time that the individual is speaking gibberish, you should continue to converse. Use voice inflection to parrot back their thoughts, “Oh I did not know that ooga booga dooga.” By continuing to dialogue in a nonsensical way, you are able to keep your loved one engaged in socialization.