Dementia: Communication Breakdown


It was fortunate that I kept the lounge curtains open last night, as I managed to see an elderly lady walking tentatively down the road.  When I opened our front door I saw it was Pat, who told me she was ‘on her way home as there were footballers in that house’.  I encouraged her to come across the road and have a chat with Maureen.   I thought two would be company and with my understanding of dementia I’d be fine: nothing could have been further from the truth.

Usually, Maureen is pleased to see Pat and they chat together quite happily.  I edged Maureen into the kitchen to explain that I needed to summon help but she scolded me and eventually retired to bed.  Pat looked totally bemused by proceedings but didn’t seem concerned about Maureen’s whereabouts.  Once she was settled in the warmth of our lounge I summoned telephone help with calls to  HICA (Pat’s Care Agency) and Single Point Of Access.

Bradley Pat’s grandson arrived after half an hour; thanked me for my help and took Pat back to her bungalow.  I had tried to chat to Pat whilst we sat and waited for Bradley but could make little sense of her responses.  In fact, I had no idea what she was talking about for most of the time.  It is possible that I’d forgotten the basics of how to communicate with someone with dementia; thinking that the lingo that I use with Maureen would be the ticket.  If only I’d recalled the tips above from Alzheimer’s Care Resource Center things might have been different.

My experience last night reminded me of the saying that: ‘ when you have met one person with dementia: you’ve met one person with dementia.’ It may also be helpful to add that: ‘two people with dementia are not always company.’

2 thoughts on “Dementia: Communication Breakdown

  1. That saying ‘ when you have met one person with dementia: you’ve met one person with dementia’ is so true. My heart used to sink whenever a new carer announced she’d had lots of experience working with people with dementia.


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