Communicating with the Elderly Patient with Dementia

This peer observation feedback tool aims to help you identify behaviors that can effect good communication with elderly confused patients. It is based on guidelines from the UK Alzheimers Society (se link). It can be used in clinical simulations with simulated-patients/actors.


1. Spend time before the observation discussing the behaviors that contribute to good communication with the elderly
2. Go through the behavioural markers in the observation tool
3. Elicit any specific area for feedback on communication that is important to the individual(s) being observed



Introduces self (to patient and family or carer) and explains role

Establishes the patient's preferred title - starts with formal Mr/Mrs

Helps orient the patient. Explains or re-explains who you are and what you will be doing


Approaches person with dementia from the front to gain their attention. Sits in front of him/her and maintains eye contact

Minimizes distractions (e.g.reduces noise from phones TV, conversations)

Communication with Carer

Tick the box If the care is with the patient

Is alert to caregiver's needs for information , resources and respite

Acknowledge the carer as a valuable source of information and support with the patient,

Communication with Patient

Does not hurry the patient and is always calm and empathetic

Even if patient says things which are untrue, avoids arguing or contradicting

Listens actively and allows extra time for the elderly patient

Speaks slowly and clearly and rephrases, if necessary.

Giving Information

Uses short simple words and sentences and presents one question, instruction or statement at a time.

Frequently summarises the most important points & gives patient opportunities to ask questions

Simplifies and writes down instructions and or uses pictures and charts

Acknowledges what the patient says - echoing, paraphrasing, and checking understanding - consistently.

Compassionate Care

Smiles and makes consistent eye contact. Tone of voice and body language is appropriate.

Uses physical contact to communicate care and affection, and to provide reassurance

Tries to include the patient in conversations with others (e.g. carer) to break feeling of social isolation and to allow him/her to express themselves.

Shows care, concern and inclusion even when it is hard to follow what the patient is saying

Sign Off

Rate the observation tool
How helpful was this tool to give feedback on communication to a colleague you observed.
[1= Not Useful at all 5 = Neutral 10 = Very Helpful]
Observer's Signature
Please note that this checklist is a hypothetical example and provides basic information only. It is not intended to take the place of, among other things, workplace, health and safety advice; medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment; or other applicable laws. You should also seek your own professional advice to determine if the use of such checklist is permissible in your workplace or jurisdiction.