Connection Clues is a resource which can be used during your online visit with your family member/friend. Finding ways to generate conversation, particularly if the person you are visiting uses few or no words, in an online context can be extremely challenging.

The Connection Clues are a range of ideas for you to try out during the visit, which may generate laughs, interactions that don’t rely solely on words and small sparks of energy or interest.


The purpose of this resource is to offer ideas to expand how you approach being together with your family member/friend online.


WHAT’s involved?

We suggest you: 

  • Read through this resource before you meet online.
  • Aim to find 1 or 2  clues that you could imagine trying out during an upcoming visit.
  • Gather anything you need for the actions you have selected.
  • Give 1 or 2 clues a go during the visit if it feels suitable
  • During the visit stay on the look-out for anything that appears to generate a small spark of interest or energy for your family member/friend.

connection clues


Some things to keep in mind when communicating with people with dementia.


It can be useful to think about the speed at which you speak, and slowing this down if you tend to speak quickly. As you slow down your speech you may want to think about how you can convey a message  through your tone of voice, facial expressions or hand gestures.


The focus in The Treasure We Seek approach is on playing around with different ways of engaging. While the person may not fully understand the meaning of what you say they may enjoy seeing you playing around with words you use. For example singing a short sentence instead of speaking it, saying hello in a different language, using words from the past that are less common now.


After you have said something, take a pause break to let your family member/friend hear and digest what you said. You may need to experiment with what works best in terms of length of pause.


Try to use questions sparingly. Perhaps use other ways of exploring what the person is feeling and thinking – we share some ideas for this below.

the clues

There are 20 Connection Clues below. Each Clue proposes an action for you to do during the online visit.

A significant number of the Clues suggest that you start by thinking about things that bring you joy or that interest you; the reason behind this is that the emotion you are experiencing when you are doing the action, perhaps more than the words you speak, will be communicated to your family member/friend.

The Clues have been designed to offer a wide range of options – some may feel like a good fit for you, others may sound ‘a stretch too far’- go with what feels right for you.

As we don’t know how, or if, the person will respond, the clues are a way of moving away from the idea of having a two-way conversation, to thinking about different ways of spending your time together.

Sing a song that you liked as a child

Share a song or a piece of music that is meaningful for you.

Start the call with an extra enthusiastic hello, by saying hello in some different languages followed by the person’s name.

Notice something about your family member/friend clothes, hair, surroundings and share what you notice.

Play music that you both like to dance to; move your face, shoulders, hands big style.

Play a song you know your family member/friend likes. Try out different ways you can join in like clapping, humming, whistling.

Bring a cup of tea/coffee and something you like to eat to the call, show and tell your family member/friend how they taste and smell (you may have arranged for them also to have something to eat or drink).

Bring an object  that belongs to your family member/friend. You may want to slowly describe the detail of it, or share a story about it.

If both of you like make-up, put some make-up on during the call and ask the person if they like it.

Create your own Connection Clue and add it to the bundle.

Read a poem that is enjoyable for you to read.

Bring a flower or leaf from outside and carefully show what you like about it.

Begin the call with a piece of music that your family member/friend might associate with you.

Can you think of words that rhyme with your family members/ friends name to make a short poem? Say their name and the words that rhyme.

Show any object from your home that you love, and share what you love about it.

Share a piece of juicy news – lean in close to share it like you are sharing a secret.

Bring a bowl of fruit – see how many other uses you can think of for the fruit. Could the banana be a fishing rod?

Share a piece of juicy news – lean in close to share it like you are sharing a secret.

End the call by thanking the person for being on the call, and share with them something you enjoyed during the call.

Read a few lines from a poem that your family member/friend knows. Read them in different ways such as: softly, with gusto, accompanied by actions and notice how they respond to each version.


Is there one small treasure, a moment or feeling – however small or brief – that you would like to hold on to from the visit? Perhaps tell others about? If something comes to mind write it down, to keep it as part of the Treasure Chest you are creating here.


Continue on to Re-Storing which has been designed to invite you to take time to think over your visit with your family member/friend.

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This project is funded by the Dementia Services Development Trust and the project members are...

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