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Communicate With Those With Memory Impairments

How To Communicate With Those With Memory Impairments

Simplicity is key when you communicate with those with memory impairments. You should use simple language in short sentences. You aren’t dumbing it down, you are just using fewer words. When someone has a memory impairment, such as dementia, they might not be able to process language in great lengths. Giving them too much information could cause more confusion and agitation. By using simple language, they have a better chance of processing what you are saying. 

What Are Some Ways To Simplify And Communicate With Those With Memory Impairments?

When you are giving directions to someone with a memory impairment keep them short and simple. Only use one-step directions. Make sure they finish one step before giving them another. 

As you are speaking to them, be sure to stay on the same topic. They won’t be able to follow the conversation if topics are changed. 

It is helpful to not ask questions that rely on using memory. It is easier if you give them choices, two choices is best because they can give you an answer and participate. They can be more independent, as well. For example, you can say, “Hi, Miss Dorothy. What would you like for breakfast?” If you do this, she can’t answer you because she doesn’t know what choices there are. If you say, “Hi, Miss Dorothy. Would you like scrambled eggs or pancakes this morning?, she can make a choice. 

Be sure you point and gesture, too. Those with memory impairments, such as dementia, rely on nonverbal cues. It is important that you pay attention to the nonverbal cues you are giving because these cues add meaning to what you are saying. 

It is also important to avoid too much stimulation. Those with a memory impairment have a tough time ignoring distractions and stimuli. They might not be able to ignore lights and noises like you can. By minimizing the distractions, they might be able to be more successful in their tasks. 

You should also ensure only one person is talking to them at a time. If too many people are talking at the same time, the person with the memory impairment is going to get confused. On the same topic, nobody should talk behind the person with a memory impairment. They aren’t going to recognize anything behind the ears. 


With this advice, you can simplify communication with someone who has a memory impairment. Be sure to keep things simple and do what is best for you and for them. 

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