The Wesbury Blog

Understanding the Barriers of Dementia Care: Improving Communication and Insight for the Caregiver

In October Wesbury partnered with the Alzheimer’s Association and Hospice of Crawford County, Inc. to present a program entitled: Understanding the Barriers of Dementia Care: Improving Communication and Insight for the Caregiver.  During that program guests learned how to identify common triggers for behaviors associated with dementia, learned strategies to address these behaviors, discovered what communication changes take place throughout the course of the disease and learned strategies to connect and communicate through those phases.

5 Potential Communication Barriers

  1. Caregiver’s communication style
  2. Physical environment
  3. Lack of activity and purposeful engagement
  4. Not recognizing their behavior AS communication
  5. Caregiver approach

1. Caregiver’s Communications Style – Communication Tips

  • Approach from the front
  • Introduce yourself
  • Speak slowly and be patient
  • Use simple language
  • Be mindful of body language
  • Don’t make assumptions about ability
  • Speak directly to the person
  • Make eye contact at their level
  • Minimize distractions

2. Physical Environment

For someone with dementia, a well-planned environment can limit distractions and help them to focus.

Limit Noise and improve lighting – Certain sounds and crowds can be upsetting or distracting

Foster Independence – Close doors to rooms not used, create a well lit path to the bathroom at night time, mark doorways and make sure the path is clear from clutter

3. Lack of Activity and Purposeful Engagement

Every care task or Interaction can be an activity

Give a sense of purpose, maintains skills and abilities, reduces challenging behaviors and will improve sleep.

How do we purposefully connect?
  • Early Stage – Open-ended questions
    • What would you like for breakfast?
    • Where would you like to go for supper?
  • Middle Stage – Choice Questions (Limit choices – 2 best)
    • Do you prefer pancakes or waffles?
    • Would you like to wear the green or yellow shirt today?
  • Late Stage – Yes or No questions and eventually provide a guided answer
    • Do you like red?
    • Do you like this song?
    • Let’s wear the blue shirt, it brings the color out in your eyes.

4. Not recognizing their behavior AS Communication

Behaviors don’t just happen: It is purposeful. We need to look for a meaning behind the behavior.

Things to Consider:
  • Are they hot/cold?
  • Are they hungry/thirsty?
  • Pain (Do they have ill fitting clothing, dentures, shoes, etc, bruises)
  • Toileting Issues (Could something else be causing it?)
  • Are they bored?

5. Caregiver Approach


Always connect with your loved one first – It’s not just about getting the task done

Encourage them to be independent – let them do what they can, for as long as they can.

Assist only as needed, but ask first!

When we do things TO them they may stop trying, feel ashamed or embarrassed, or feel they have no control over what is happening.  When we do things with them it keeps them active and engaged, prevents anxiety or fear, makes life more enjoyable and creates a positive emotion.

The above summary of the presentation: Understanding the Barriers of Dementia Care: Improving Communication and Insight for the Caregiver was presented by the Alzheimer’s Association, Jill Curtis at and Danielle Schmidt with Hospice of Crawford County at
If you have further questions or would like to setup a tour of Wesbury’s Memory Support Center, contact Grace Rehabilitation and Health Center Admissions Coordinator at 814-332-9233.
Please check back to our Facebook page and Website for future event updates and invitations.
Back to top

Join Our Email List

to receive e-newsletters, blog updates, promotions, & event invitations.

Discover all that Wesbury has to offer.