26 Comments

20 Things to NOT Say to a Person with Dementia

20-things-not-to-say-to-aperson-with-dementia-updated-6june2014.jpgThis list comes from Kate Swaffer who after being diagnosed offers a fresh perspective on how to live beyond dementia rather than only die from it, and how family, friends and dementia care professionals can more positively support people post diagnosis to do this. She has lovingly challenged, advised, and counseled me quite a few times on my journey. We even launched a Q&A blog where we peppered each other with questions.

As a follow-up to my go-to strategies for family visits, I plucked a few key tips to consider and am listing my top ten:

  1. Don’t tell the person they are wrong.
  2. Don’t say “Remember when … “
  3. Don’t correct or challenge trivial things.
  4. Don’t assume they can’t understand you because they are silent.
  5. Don’t think they can’t communicate just because we can’t speak.
  6. Don’t talk about them to someone else in front of them.
  7. Don’t remind them of a death of a loved one or pet.
  8. Don’t blame them for the changes in their behavior.
  9. Don’t assume they can’t answer for themselves.
  10. Don’t assume because they can’t tell you, that your words or actions don’t hurt their feelings.

It is easy to read the list, but not as easy to make these part of your actions when you are visiting. I am going to share my individual experiences with each of these over the next month. It time for me to learn and I hope my mistakes will help you learn faster than I did!

Be mindful of the words you use, and forgive yourself when you make a mistake — just build on what you are learning. Recognize that the person diagnosed with dementia still has the same craving for meaning and purpose that is the core of every human.

The changes in behavior are not hidden personality traits. As the brain is changing, so is the person living with dementia. When you have met one person with dementia, you have met one person.

Thank you to Kate who continues to be a beacon of hope living with dementia working to provide us with inspiration, love and truth. Admired.

26 comments on “20 Things to NOT Say to a Person with Dementia

  1. The Kate and Kay way will do me every time.

  2. Some great suggestions to maintain respect and dignity for those with dementia. Every day is a new day to practice, learn a little more, and get it right.

  3. Reblogged this on My Dad Is A Goldfish and commented:
    I’m sharing a post by Kay Bransford, whose blog I follow, who has posted the 20 things not to say to someone with dementia, compiled by Kate Swaffer who has been diagnosed with dementia. It’s an excellent list and Kay has added some well-chosen points of her own.

  4. Reblogged this on My Dad’s a Goldfish and said: I’m sharing a post by Kay Bransford, whose blog I follow, who has posted the 20 things not to say to someone with dementia, compiled by Kate Swaffer who has been diagnosed with dementia. It’s an excellent list and Kay has added some well-chosen points of her own.

  5. Reblogged this on Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life and commented:
    Mary Smith reblogged this very useful article on dementia posted by Kay Bransford. My mother had dementia in the last years of her life.. she was 94 so it was very late onset.. however these twenty things not to say to someone with any form of dementia is spot on.

  6. Reblogged this on Living Well With Dementia and commented:
    It doesn’t come any better than this post with sensible ground rules for dealing with dementia from Kate Swaffer and Kay Bransford

  7. Reblogged this on Judith Barrow and commented:
    I can’t add to this. I’ve lived through this four times now and grateful that, at least some of the time, what I said and did, was the right thing.

  8. Thank you so much for this special list. There are very few people indeed whose lives are not touched by someone who has been diagnosed with dementia. I think this list should be on every refrigerator.

  9. […] I realized I was using it more often to correct my parents or point out poor decision (see the list of 20 things to NOT say to someone with dementia). I was understanding they could no longer remember, but not really practiced at how to spend time […]

  10. […] is the third item from my list of things to never say to a person diagnosed with dementia. It took some time for me to learn this and I feel like its a partner to tip #2 to not say […]

  11. […] his is the fourth of my list of things to never say to a person diagnosed with dementia. […]

  12. […] This is the fifth item from my list of things to never say to a person diagnosed with dementia. […]

  13. […] is a deeper dive into the sixth item from my list of things to never say to a person diagnosed with dementia. This one is a bruiser–and I watched it happen so many times by people that are trained to care […]

  14. Reblogged this on Sun in Gemini and commented:
    Dear to my heart…

  15. […] This is a deeper dive into the seventh item from my list of things to never say to a person diagnosed with dementia.  […]

  16. […] This is a deeper dive into the eight item from my list of things to never say to a person diagnosed with dementia.  […]

  17. […] This is a deeper dive into the nine item from my list of things to never say to a person diagnosed with dementia.  […]

  18. […] This is the tenth and last detailed item from my list of things to never say to a person diagnosed with dementia. […]

  19. Add I am not going to tell you because you won’t remember. = the shutout

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