June is effective communication month!

Our discussion continues around effective communication and how important it is, as it has the power to make or break a caring relationship. Or any relationship really! This becomes an even more pertinent point when it comes to aging seniors who are living with dementia. When they experience changes in their abilities to communicate effectively and so we need to be aware and learn how to succeed with them despite the challenges that come with cognitive changes. We often see individuals start to speak their first language or mixing it with English. People may become more introverted and will speak less as they have a harder time articulating their thoughts and words. 



Often times we see people revert to the language they first learned as a child. The things we learn early in life are often the last things we forget. This can make communication even more challenging, unless you are lucky enough to speak the language yourself!

Ask for English

When you find yourself in a situation where you don’t understand the language, let the person know. Let them know you do not understand the language and if they can say it in English. Sometimes, that’s all it takes and you are on your way to better understanding the message!

Respond as Best You Can

 Engage with them even if you can’t understand the language. This lets the person know you are listening, which is so important. Tell the person know you don’t understand and use body language as well. So much of our communication in nonverbal, it can go a long way in being understood.

Learn a Few Key Phrases

A little effort can often go a long way! Learn a few key phrases so you can engage in the person’s own language. Whether they are common phrases used in order to meet their needs or just to say good morning and ask how they are, it is often met with great appreciation and increases the sense of connection and trust.

Find an Interpreter

We are lucky to live in such a multicultural society here in Canada! If you don’t speak the language, you might have someone close to you that does! A co-worker, friend or neighbor? Just ask! There are so many people out there ready and willing to lead a hand.



When someone is very quiet it can often make us feel uncomfortable and can also make communication more challenging.



Get Comfortable

We don’t always have to be talking or filling the silence. Who said, “silence is golden”? well, there is definitely truth to that. I remember reading a quote (by whom I have no idea) and thinking how true it was… “true friendship is when you can sit in silence and feel like it’s the best conversation you’ve ever had”. Talking isn’t always the answer. Sometimes all we need is to know we are not alone.

Yes or No

Sometimes the use of yes or no questions is all you need to carry a “conversation” or to get the information you need. Just be careful not to ask too many questions, that can become overwhelming and irritating.

Body Language

Here is a fantastic opportunity to practice your ability to interpret body language. Pay attention to the tiny things, as they can mean a lot. Is the person making eye contact? Are they smiling? Do they have a furrowed brow? Are their eyes tearing up?  How a person is truly feeling shows up in their body language.


That’s it until next time! I hope you found these tips useful. Stay tuned! Next blog I will start the conversation around changing our own communication style and techniques to communicate effectively.

Thanks for reading!!

Photo credit: all photos- pixabay.com (no attribution required)