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Listening and Dementia

Do you remember a time when you were trained to practice "active" listening rather than "passive" listening? Active listening is not only beneficial in the professional work environment, but also plays an important role in communicating with those with dementia.

Listening begins with silence. Focus on what they are telling you and do not interrupt. Paraphrasing or repeating back what the person has said to you, even if it doesn't make sense, shows that you have heard what they are telling you. The goal is to show that you care and respect what they have to say.

It also may help you to understand their point of reference. It is common to feel the need to argue or to provide correction when what is said does not make sense. People with dementia often get facts wrong or remember events incorrectly. It is okay.

There is no reason to insist upon being right. Step in to the other person's world and honor their memory no matter if it is their own creation. Who knows, maybe their version is more interesting!