What is it? 

Conversation is where most communicative ‘give and take’ happens.

As such, it is absolutely central to exchanging meaning, to helping people keep a sense of themselves and what is happening around them, and to fully participating in life.

We can do certain things to make conversation more likely to happen in a mutually satisfactory way, both for people living with dementia and for those around them.

Why is it important?

Studies have shown that most people living with dementia engage less in conversation as their illness progresses.

This may be due to problems experienced by the person living with dementia – their attention may wander, they may speak ‘off subject’, or they may feel anxious about speaking because they know they are having trouble putting sentences together, for example.

It may also be because others find it difficult to know how to interact with those living with dementia and tend to limit their conversation with them to very instrumental, task-based subject matter.

Certain relatively simple strategies can be employed to make conversation more satisfying for both parties.