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 thoughts on “20 Things to NOT Say to a Person with Dementia

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

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