Putting yourself in their shoes

It often helps to think of situations you have experienced that share elements with the experience of living with dementia: feeling lost, frightened or not really sure what you were doing, for example, perhaps because you were tired, anxious or in a strange place.

  • If you are having trouble understanding someone, think about what you know about them and their character. Do they often talk about their job? Do they often tell people if they are hungry or tired or anxious?
  • If people speak in a confused or jumbled way it is often possible to reach for a meaning together. Sometimes you will arrive at a meaning it is clear that neither of you had originally intended!
  • Relax as much as you can, and help the person you are talking with to relax.
  • Look for clues in people’s behaviour and try to feel what they might mean.
  • We often have an ability to understand each other that we would find impossible to explain. Accept that sometimes you will get this wrong!
  • If you can, find someone else who might be able to help when you feel you cannot understand or help.
  • Enjoy your interactions and learn from them.