Changes In Communication

Alzheimer’s disease or other types of dementia will gradually affect how you communicate with people. Changes in your ability to communicate will be unique to you, so there is no way of knowing in advance what those specific changes might be. We do know, however, that when you have early dementia it generally takes longer for your brain to process what’s being said to you. Some of the other ways that communication may be affected are:

  • Needing more time to decide how to respond, especially if you're trying to answer a direct question
  • Having problems finding the right words
  • Losing your train of thought
  • Repeating words, stories or questions

While these changes can be very frustrating at times, it’s important to remember that they’re not your fault. They are part of the illness.

If you’re having trouble with communication, here are some tips that may be helpful to you:

  • Slow down when you’re having a hard time finding the right words and take your time.
  • Try describing the person, place or thing that you’re talking about if you can’t recall the right word(s). Sometimes this will lead to the word you’re looking for.
  • Be aware that too much background noise can distract you and make it more difficult to talk with others.
  • Let other people know when you are having difficulty speaking or understanding what they’re saying.

Care Partner Tip

People with early dementia often need more time to process what’s being said to them. You should give them extra time to answer or to respond to you. It’s also important to refrain from asking too many direct questions as this can be overwhelming and will often cause their minds to simply go blank. Communication can be enhanced by speaking clearly, in shorter sentences, and by talking about one thing at a time.