"Visiting" People with Dementia Via Phone or Video

September 11, 2020 | Caregiver Resources

Due to continued visiting restrictions because of COVID-19, many loved ones of those with dementia are left with limited options to spend time together. One option to connect is through a phone call or video chat. Because of impaired communication skills from dementia, this may be challenging, but there are some tips that can be considered in order to make the call or video chat as successful as possible. 

  • Know when the best time to call is. This is especially true if a loved one is living in a care facility. Trying to talk to a loved one at a busy time of the day may cause distractions and not allow for a successful call. Some individuals with dementia also suffer from increased dementia symptoms and confusion as the day goes on, particularly in the evening hours, known as Sundowning. Trying a phone call during this period of time may not be successful and cause frustration for both the individual with dementia and their loved one.
  • Speak clearly and slowly in order to give the individual time to process what you are saying. It is important to still speak to an individual with dementia as an adult, so avoid using "baby talk."
  • Allow extra time for the individual with dementia to respond to your questions or conversation as it will take them longer to process the information you are saying.
  • Instead of asking open-ended questions, ask questions that require a yes or no answer as you are more likely to get an answer without overwhelming the person you are having a conversation with. 
  • Be patient

It is important to note that the first few attempts at a phone call or video chat with someone with dementia may not be easy. However, over time, it will become less difficult to know what questions to ask or how best to engage with your loved one over the phone or video chat. 

To Learn More:

Tips for Communication with a Person Who has Alzheimer's Disease

Alzheimer's Caregiving: Changes in Communication Skills