It’s important to listen to people living with dementia. Sometimes it can be easy to become impatient, be distracted, or overlook the contribution people living with dementia can make.
With the many stresses and electronic distractions of today’s world, really listening and giving your full attention to anyone can be a challenge.
But it’s important to practice good listening skills and pay attention in order to properly understand what is being communicated. This can also support people living with dementia to feel socially included.
How to listen well
Be in the moment
Put your phone down, turn away from the screen, don’t think about your schedule or the jobs you need to do. People can tell when you’re distracted and not really listening.
Don’t make judgements
Be empathetic, don’t judge the person as they are talking. To truly understand what a person is saying and where they are coming from, try to see the world from their perspective.
Be aware of yourself and about what you’re saying and how it can be perceived.
Show you’re listening
Use body language to show the person that you’re listening; nod encouragingly, lean in. This will make the person you’re talking to feel more comfortable and confident they are being heard.
Listen to learn
Being interested, asking open-ended questions and being open to learning from the person you are speaking to can create more meaningful conversations. The better you listen to a person with dementia, the better your relationship will become. This will help the person to feel more connected, more valued and less isolated.
The National Dementia Helpline is a free service that provides information and advice to all people who would like to know more about dementia or access services and support.
Dementia Australia’s national library service offers a comprehensive collection of print and digital resources about dementia. Explore the resources guide for this Dementia Action Week daily tip.