Dotty’s Ten Tips for communication with a person living with Dementia

1. Do you know what makes me feel secure? A smile
2. Did you ever consider? When you get uptight it makes me feel tense and uptight.
3. Instead of getting all bent out of shape when I do something that seems perfectly normal to me and perfectly NUTTY to you. Just smile at me it takes the edge off the situation.
4. Please try to understand and remember my short term memory is gone – don’t talk so fast, or use so many words.
5. When you use one of those long winded explanations of me- I’ll say No because I can’t tell what you are asking me to do. Keep your words few and simple so I can follow you.
6. Slow down. Don’t sneak up on me and start talking. Did I mention I like smiles?
7. Make sure you have my attention before you start blabbering away. If you don’t have my attention, I’ll be confused and say NO.
8. My attention span and ability to pay attention are not so good, please make eye contact with me before you start talking. A nice smile always gets my attention. Did I mention that before?
9. Sometimes you talk to me like I’m a child or idiot. How would you like it is I did that to you? Go to your room and think about this. Don’t come back and tell me you are sorry, I won’t know what you are talking about. Just stop doing it and we will get along.
10. You talk too much – instead try taking my hand and leading the way. I need a guide not a person to nag me.

Resource: Alzheimer’s Reading Room


As a relative ages and looses mental capacity, we often face the question of what to do when the senior is no longer able to manage on their own. Our hope and our advice is to seek the least intrusive tool that will accomplish the goal while maintaining as much autonomy for our elder as possible.

The first stage is a durable financial power of attorney for property/finance and a durable health care power of attorney for health decisions. In most cases, as a senior fades, there comes a day when you used these documents occasionally, and later on – daily. The key is that these are private documents – only those who need to know will ever see them. And, as long as the senior is compliant, the documents are effective until the end. Privacy and dignity are preserved.

However, with some dementia, especially Alzheimer’s type, some seniors develop a combative approach to life, as the pain, confusion, and internal noises mount, which makes it difficult to control the senior. They may become belligerent or threatening, which usually requires institutionalization in a facility with staff trained to handle the behavior. The senior may fire the power-of-attorney holder at any time they are competent and, until a judge says in a court hearing that someone is incompetent, they are presumed to know what they are doing. So with a diagnosis of dementia and any signs of aggressive behavior, it is time to seek a guardianship, which is a probate court proceeding. When the court-appointed guardian says that the senior must comply with medical or facility rules, the guardian has the clout to enforce it.