When a loved one with dementia struggles to communicate clearly, it can be both distressing and challenging. Their intentions to communicate remain, but their ability to articulate words distinctly can diminish.

Practical strategies to improve communication with someone who can no longer speak distinctly.

1. Recognizing the Impact of Dementia on Communication:

As dementia progresses, it affects a person's ability to communicate. This often results in mumbling or indistinct speech, making conversations difficult. It's a frustrating barrier for both parties, but with patience and strategies, we can bridge this gap.

2. Strategies to Enhance Communication:

Minimizing Distractions:

Ensure the environment is conducive to communication by reducing background noise and distractions. Simple measures like turning off the TV and closing the distance can significantly aid in understanding your loved one.

Anticipating Needs:

Sometimes, it helps to 'speak dementia' by anticipating what your loved one is trying to say. Observing their nonverbal cues and context can guide you to understand their intended message, reducing frustration for both of you.

Giving Words and Repeating:

If your loved one struggles to find the right words, offer suggestions or repeat what you believe they're trying to say for confirmation. Asking clarifying questions gently can also help in deciphering their message.

3. Empowering Through Understanding:

Your loved one is making an effort to communicate despite the difficulties. By tuning into their attempts and responding with empathy and support, you empower them. Your educated guesses, based on knowing them well, can make a significant difference in their quality of life and sense of connection.

senior with dementia talking to her daughter and smiling


Understanding that your loved one is trying to communicate, even through mumbles, is crucial. It's our role to adapt and meet them halfway in this communication journey.

For more tips and guidance on caring for a loved one with dementia, consider subscribing to related YouTube channels that provide ongoing support.

And always remember, in this journey of care and love, you're not alone.

Closing Blessing:

May we all find strength, patience, and grace as we navigate through the challenges of dementia together. May the Lord bless you and keep you, and provide peace and understanding in your caregiving journey.

Let me know in the comments below if you have questions about dementia that you need answered.

If you would like more information on how to help a parent living with dementia, join our next free workshop here.

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If you feel like dementia caregiving is hard and unpredictable and you are struggling to help a spouse or a parent living with dementia, join our next free workshop.

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About the author

“Think Different” Dementia’s owner, Lizette Cloete, OTR/L graduated as an Occupational Therapist from the University of Pretoria in South Africa in 1992. Lizette has almost 30 years of experience as an Occupational Therapist in a variety of settings, the latest being in the home health environment. She enjoys teaching on the topic of dementia, most recently presenting at a national conference on the topic “Dementia Made Simple”.

Disclaimer: These blogs, videos and any work done by Lizette Cloete OT, as a Member of Think Different Dementia, LLC, is given only as educational content and consulting work. This does not create an Occupational Therapist-Patient Relationship. The educational content and consulting work performed should not be considered medical treatment as an Occupational Therapist. The consulting work does not take the place of medical work normally performed by a licensed Occupational Therapist. Please consult a licensed Occupational Therapist for medical advice.

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