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?")


over 2 years ago, said...

Yes..thanks for the help. I am new to all this. My Mom has actually been showing signs of dinentia the last few years, with this year being the worst. She livesc with me now..which I sometimes don't understand why she gets so vbp1970 irritated. Now I know. She has a uti which makes things even worst. My prayers for you all!


almost 3 years ago, said...

Thanks for these tips. I have been thinking about the same topic during the time I've cared for my mother. Here are some thoughts I would like to add: http://takingcareofmama.blogspot.com/


almost 4 years ago, said...

A simple reminder of what I already knew and have practiced. I must stay focused on the disease and its symptoms as anxiety/anger triggers. Sometime my focus strays back to when times were not yet clouded by Dementia-Alzheimer's.


almost 4 years ago, said...

As a R.N.,I have been taught to ask open ended questions,and to avoid "yes/no" questions. This helps me to know that it is okay,and appropriate to ask "yes/no",closed type questions which is completely opposite of everything I have tried to practice my entire life. Unfortunately my Grandmother is no longer capable of having logical,and higher level functioning conversation anymore.


about 4 years ago, said...

I realize that often the way I ask a question is aggravating to my husband. I know that when I am able to make a general comment, w are able to have a better conversation.


about 4 years ago, said...

We caretakers need to be constantly reminded how to ask questions and make comments. The more peaceful our conversations the more peaceful our dear ones will be. Thanks


about 4 years ago, said...

I now know what types of questions to ask to reduce anxiety . I thought I was asking simple questions but now see it was challenging to my wife. Thanks for the tip


over 4 years ago, said...

It served to remind me that asking questions is ok but I must be sure to ask them the 'right' way. I have read this before but did not remember it because there are times when re-phrasing a question meets with stoic silence. No visible or audible reaction at all.


almost 5 years ago, said...

My mother surprises me by getting miffed when I ask her questions sometimes, I now know why!


about 5 years ago, said...

I am reading everything I can on Alzheimer's disease - now focusing on being the caregiver as my sister's dementia deepens - still need to get to a specialist. Finally accepted that her condition was worsening and that I needed to step up to the plate and do the best I can to keep her safe as she progresses in this disease.... although there are associations who are supposed to help I find that they are very difficult to work with and to get the assistance that would help make this easier on the caregiver and family ...ah well.


about 5 years ago, said...

It helped validate what I picked up on on our last visit to the opthamologist. I am slowly learning not to ask open-ended questions.


about 5 years ago, said...

Its hard as mum looks well. I just think that all we can do is love her for who she is and help her to deal with the card she drew. Life you have one live it to the full. My Mum and Dad are still happy and enjoy the holidays when they can.


about 5 years ago, said...

Thank you this helps


about 5 years ago, said...

A very good tip.....limiting their choices, decreaces their anxiety. Here OR there. This OR that, seems to be working better for me too!! I also try to name the thing or food I would like her to do or eat, as the last thing suggested because, she will usually choose the latter. Also, always, always, I have to word things to make them sound like it's HER idea! It's a maternal thing with mom. She raised 5 by herself and still thinks she can tell us what to do and how it should be done~! God Bless Her!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


over 5 years ago, said...

Jessie and Ginny, I feel your pain. My Mom is entering the severe stage and just last night hung up the phone on me as we were talking. Her nurse was on the extension, so we had a good laugh together after Mom hung up her phone. May the Lord be with all of us as we progress through this mess.


over 5 years ago, said...

I have a tendancy to ask the open-ended type questions since I've always been open to compromise. Some of the time everything goes well and other times my spouse reacts angrily if he has to be part of the decision-making. I realize that he can't help his reaction and I need to be the one who learns to change my speaking style!


over 5 years ago, said...

This was very helpful - I am new to coping with this issue and my Mom's symptoms are worsening. Plus, I live out of state and see her infrequently so I appreciate any help with how to better communicate with her. thanks.