Talking about Dementia

Early signs of dementia may be very subtle and vary a great deal. You might notice that your mother keeps forgetting her best friend’s telephone number or your father no longer shaves every day. Should you be alarmed? Maybe. But you should be careful how you proceed to ensure you come to the right conclusions.

“When a family or friend begins to show signs of dementia, it can be difficult to know when and how to talk with them about their symptoms.” says The Reverend Kathy F. Berry, Chaplain, Westminster Canterbury Richmond. “You may not be sure the symptoms are real or just coincidences that we all experience. It could be as simple as forgetting the car keys or leaving the coffee maker on all day. One of the reasons I wrote WHEN WORDS FAIL is to help loved ones identify the difference. “

Practice compassion. If a loved one is experiencing the early stages of dementia, think about how confusing and frustrating it would be to know you are losing control. Be patient and let God minister through you.

“Talking to a loved one about your observations can be awkward and painful for both parties. It is important to gather all the information possible before proceeding,” says Rev. Berry. “This is the time to look at the facts as they are and not as you wish them to be.”

WHEN WORDS FAIL will equip those in ministry, and also caregivers, with how to reach out to family and friends living with dementia and offer person-centered spiritual care. Ministering to the mind, body and soul, this book has practical examples and tools designed to meet the emotional and physical needs, and devotes particular attention to ways of communicating even after words have failed. To purchase your copy, please visit

Return to the blog.