People with a dementia (PWAD) have an opinion. They may tell you what they want or don’t want, agree or disagree, concur or be obstinate, say yes or no. What they often do NOT have is the ability to weigh benefit and risk. This is based on experience and memory, and memory is a challenge. Don’t attempt to reason with a PWAD when you are getting push-back. Change your words, your tone, or your line of approach, especially on important topics like moving or retiring form driving.


Repetitive questions and phone calls are not always about seeking information; they are often about exercising choice and purpose. PWAD may still know how to use a phone and it makes them feel productive in society. The time will come when they will no longer recall the sequence to do so – how to make a call. You have the choice of answering or not answering the phone. If you do, answer as if it were the first time the person called. The time will come when they will no longer remember how to make a call, so enjoy hearing their voices for as long as you can.


Behavior is communication and it speaks louder than words, especially for PWAD. If you’re in a hurry or under duress, don’t visit. PWAD won’t know. And should you be greeted with Where have you been? perhaps even when you had been by to see them, your response: I’m so happy to see you! Did you miss me? I missed you. Did you miss me? Focus on communion – being one with. Sometimes something as simple as just sitting together can be more relaxing and enjoyable for both of you rather than attempting to carry on a conversation. Try listening to familiar music or a program together, hold hands – the element of human contact and touch is so important! Give a hand massage. Use a cream with a familiar scent. Men appreciate those as well. Above all, smile. That’s a universal language and it sets the tone. Focus on the gift of time together. Communication is so much more than the sum of the words we use. Communicating with PWAD offers both challenges and insights into how we can do things differently – and better!

To continue this conversation and learn more, contact Susan

Susan I. Wranik

Speaker | Author | Clinician

Susan, is a linguist and speech-language pathologist treating speech, swallowing, memory and the will
to live in the adult and older adult population. She is an LSVT certified clinician for the treatment of
Parkinson’s and also provides family consultation on clinical treatment options. To learn more, contact
Susan at