Dementia can be very isolating, affecting both the brain physically, and a person’s ability to socialise and relate to others. Friends and family may struggle to communicate when a person with dementia acts in what seems like a strange manner. But those who know a person with dementia the most are often best placed to help them.

We rely greatly on body language and facial expressions when we communicate with each other. When a person has dementia, however, expressions are less reliable, their bodies do not move as much and their words are not as clear.  So conversations can sometimes become almost a test to see how well the person is, rather than a sharing of the moment in order to build up relationships.

At MHA, we take a person-centred approach to all kinds of care, including dementia care. We learn a person’s history, likes and dislikes to understand who they are. People with dementia do not lose their feelings or emotions. We rely more on the senses to reach the person within and offer them a means of communication.

For example, we provide Music Therapy to give people with dementia a non-verbal means of self expression and creativity. We use resources such as the Pictures to Share book series, which uses vintage photography to spark positive memories for people with dementia. We were on the advisory panel, and helped to pilot, the Yorkshire Film Archives’ Memory Bank project, which uses archived film footage to help people with dementia reminisce happy times.

We have also produced the Keeping in Touch booklet to help friends and relatives of people with dementia find ways to stay engaged with their loved ones and help them continue to express themselves. Call 01332 296200 or email if you would like a copy.

Margaret Goodall

Dementia Care Chaplaincy Adviser

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