Smart Ways to Ask a Question of Someone With Moderate Dementia

Some of the most natural phrases can strike the wrong note when we're talking to someone with considerable dementia. Simple questions like, "What did you and Bill talk about?" can sound like tests, making the person who can't remember these basics feel irritable or anxious.

Avoid these types of questions:

  1. Those that seek a specific answer ("What time is it?" or "What did you eat for lunch?")

  2. Those that are open-ended ("What do you want to do today?" or "Where do you want to go for lunch?")

The best questions:

  1. Yes-no questions ("Was your lunch good?")

  2. Those that are phrased like comments ("It's getting late, isn't it?" or "You and Bill always have a good time; did you have fun today?")

Paula Spencer Scott

Paula Spencer Scott is the author of Surviving Alzheimer's: Practical Tips and Soul-Saving Wisdom for Caregivers and much of the Alzheimer's and caregiving content on Caring. See full bio