Facilitating good communication

Facilitating good communication

If you are interested in improving your communication with an employee showing signs of dementia or diagnosed with dementia, there are some common practices that can be helpful: 

  • Find a quiet, calm place to speak, with minimal background noise.
  • Get your employee’s full attention before you start to communicate, and ask them if they are feeling able and ready to listen or have a conversation.
  • Be patient and allow your employee plenty of time to listen or express themselves, as it may take them longer to process or share information.
  • Listen carefully to what your employee is saying. 
    • If they have difficulty finding the right word or finishing a sentence, ask them to explain it in a different way.
    • Try not to interrupt or finish your employee’s sentences; give them an opportunity to express themselves.
  • Check with your employee that you have understood correctly what they have said, or ask them to paraphrase or repeat back the information that you shared with them.
  • Make sure your employee can see you clearly and maintain good eye contact to help them focus on you.
  • Use supportive and compassionate words and tone.
  • If you have access to a paper or whiteboard, ask your employee if they can write down the ideas that you discuss or offer to do it for them.
  • If your employee becomes frustrated, agitated, or aggressive, which can be a symptom of dementia, offer to take a break and reconnect later.
  • Once you complete your communication, provide a summary of the key points in writing.

What NOT to Say

What to Say

You’re missing meetings and forgetting things. Have you seen a doctor?

I am concerned about you. Are you feeling any different?

You’re having performance issues. We’re going to have to let you go if you don’t get it together.

I’ve noticed some changes in how you approach your work and the results you are getting. Have you noticed these changes, and do you have any ideas on how we can help you to be more productive again?

Something’s wrong. This isn’t like you.

I’ve noticed some changes in your work/relationships in the past little while. How are you feeling?