Many of us worry about saying the wrong thing to someone with dementia, yet a friendly face or listening ear can make the world of difference.

Even in the later stages of dementia when having a conversation might become difficult, keeping in touch means a lot. Seeing friends and loved ones brings feelings of happiness and comfort, and the ‘emotional memory’ remains with them long after the memory of the visit may have gone.

This Dementia Action Week, Alzheimer’s Society is encouraging everyone to take action by starting a conversation; whether it’s calling a relative with dementia or visiting a neighbour.

Research shows that every three minutes, someone in the UK develops dementia. Despite almost all of us knowing someone affected, two-thirds of people living with dementia report feeling isolated and lonely.

Public awkwardness and anxiety plays a part in this isolation – over half of the general public reported that they didn’t feel confident inviting someone with dementia to a meal at home.

Most of these anxieties come from a fear of not knowing know what to say or how to speak. However, there are simple things that you can do to make communicating with someone dementia easier.

Before you start a conversation make sure you're in a good place to talk, find somewhere quiet with good lighting. Position yourself where the person can see you as clearly as possible and wait until you have their full attention before you start speaking with them.

Speak clearly, calmly and at a slightly slower pace. Make sure to allow time between sentences and refrain from using long, complex sentences. These can be difficult to grasp for somebody with dementia. Use short, simple sentences as much as possible and avoid asking too many or complicated questions.

Remember to also include people with dementia in conversations with others. Being included can help a person with dementia to keep their sense of identity and feel they are valued. It can also help to reduce feelings of exclusion and isolation.

It’s time to start talking - a simple conversation really can go a long way.

To find out how you can get involved in Dementia Action Week visit

  • Helen Green is London Media Officer for the Alzheimer's Society.