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Communication with Someone who has Diminished Capacity

Communicating with someone who has diminished capacity due to age, illness, or other factors can be challenging but is important for their well-being and your relationship with them. As an estate planning lawyer in Folsom, I often get questions from clients and family members regarding how to handle communication with someone who may be experiencing such issues. Here are some tips for effective and respectful communication in such situations:

  1. Be Patient and Understanding: Understand that the individual may take longer to process information and respond. Be patient and allow them the time they need to communicate.
  2. Use Simple and Clear Language: Keep your language simple and straightforward. Avoid using jargon or complex vocabulary that could confuse them. Use short, concise sentences.
  3. Maintain Eye Contact: If the person is capable of maintaining eye contact, it can help establish a connection and show that you’re engaged in the conversation.
  4. Listen Actively: Pay close attention to what the person is saying, and give them your full attention. Avoid interrupting or finishing their sentences, as this can be frustrating.
  5. Speak Slowly and Clearly: Enunciate your words and speak at a moderate pace. Give them time to process what you’re saying.
  6. Use Non-Verbal Cues: Non-verbal communication, such as facial expressions and body language, can convey meaning. Use gentle gestures or facial expressions to support your verbal communication.
  7. Ask Open-Ended Questions: Encourage conversation by asking open-ended questions that require more than a simple “yes” or “no” response. This can help the person express themselves more fully.
  8. Use Visual Aids: In some cases, visual aids like pictures, diagrams, or written instructions can be helpful in conveying information.
  9. Rephrase and Repeat: If the person doesn’t understand or remember what you’ve said, rephrase it or repeat it using different words. Be patient and flexible in your approach.
  10. Respect Their Dignity: Treat the person with respect and dignity. Avoid speaking to them as if they were a child. Always maintain their sense of autonomy and self-worth.
  11. Use Familiar and Personal Topics: When possible, engage in conversations related to familiar and personal topics. This can help them feel more comfortable and connected.
  12. Avoid Arguing or Correcting: If the person says something that is inaccurate or incorrect, it’s often best to avoid arguing or correcting them. Correcting may lead to frustration or confusion.
  13. Reinforce Positive Emotions: Acknowledge and reinforce positive emotions and memories. Share stories or engage in activities that can trigger positive responses.
  14. Involve Others: If the person’s capacity is significantly diminished, involve family members, caregivers, or professionals who are trained in dealing with such situations. They can provide additional support and guidance.
  15. Stay Calm and Compassionate: Dealing with diminished capacity can be emotionally challenging, but maintaining a calm and compassionate demeanor is essential. It can help reduce anxiety and create a more comfortable environment.


Remember that communication with individuals who have diminished capacity requires empathy, flexibility, and a willingness to adapt your communication style to meet their needs. Every person is unique, so be attentive to their specific preferences and needs to ensure effective and respectful communication. If you have any questions about communicating with someone with diminished capacity, or are seeking to retain an experienced Folsom estate planning lawyer, contact Thapar Law at 916-579-0605 or send us a message

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