What is it?

Conversation is where most communicative ‘give and take’ happens. As such, it is central to sharing meaning, to helping people keep a sense of themselves and to fully participating in life.

We can act in certain ways to make conversation more likely to be fulfilling both for people living with dementia and for those around them.

Why is it important?

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’, they may reply abruptly or keep talking while having lost their thread.

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.

Focus on the positives – what a person can do, rather than what they can’t.

Make the person feel that you have valued talking with them by making a positive comment at the end of the conversation.