Communication can be challenging for people with Alzheimer’s disease. The progressive condition, which destroys memory and other crucial mental functions, can cause confusion and difficulties with speech. People with Alzheimer’s disease often struggle to understand what other people are saying or may have trouble remembering certain words or phrases. Effective communication with someone with Alzheimer’s requires patience and excellent listening skills. Learn how to better communicate with a loved one affected by Alzheimer’s disease by using simple tips and techniques for Alzheimer’s care.
Find a Quiet Place to Talk
Noisy environments can be overly stimulating to people with Alzheimer’s disease. Loud sounds can be distracting, making it difficult for the individual to focus on the words you are saying. When speaking to a person with Alzheimer’s, try to find a quiet place to talk that does not have too many distractions, such as the radio, TV, or other people. Many people with Alzheimer’s also have difficulty recognizing when someone is speaking to them. Sit close to the person and always face him or her and maintain eye contact while speaking. This will also improve the person’s ability to see and understand you.
Practice Relaxed Speech and Body Language
Be aware of your speech and body language when speaking with a loved one affected by Alzheimer’s. Slow down when you are talking and try to enunciate your words. You also want to avoid making sudden or abrupt body movements. These quick movements can frighten a person with dementia. Instead, use slow and relaxed body movements if you feel the need to make any at all. Slowed speech and body movements are easier to achieve when you take your time to communicate. Try to communicate with the person when you have time and do not feel stressed or rushed.
Use Non-Verbal Cues
As words can sometimes be confusing for people with Alzheimer’s disease, consider using verbal cues when possible. Even a friendly smile can be comforting to someone with this condition if they are unable to understand what you are saying. Try to keep all non-verbal cues calm and relaxing to show the person you are not angry or irritated. Visual cues can be useful in a variety of scenarios. For example, it can be helpful to point to or touch an item instead of talking about it. If you want the person to eat their meal, you may point to their dinner plate or hand them a fork.
Be Empathetic and Caring
Alzheimer’s care can be a frustrating experience when your loved one is no longer able to communicate with you effectively. However, it is important to remember that the loss of verbal abilities is part of the disease and not something the person can control. Be empathetic while speaking to your loved one and understand the difficulties they face. Do not try to correct the person when they confuse things or try to reason with them as they will not be able to really understand you.
Ask Short, Closed Questions
Open questions require a person to answer in a way that requires more complex thinking. If your loved one is having difficulty answering your questions, try asking them in a different way. Short, closed questions are more easily answered with a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’. You may also want to ask questions that have just two choices instead of multiple options. For example, you may ask the person if they prefer chicken or beef for dinner, instead of asking what they want to eat. By simplifying your questions you can more easily communicate with someone with Alzheimer’s disease.
Do Not Be Afraid of Physical Contact
For many people suffering from the effects of Alzheimer’s disease, physical contact from a loved one can be very comforting. When you first visit the person, reach out to shake their hand as this can be therapeutic. If they do not reach out to grab your hand, simply move onto the conversation. If the person recognizes who you are and enjoys the physical contact you offer, do not be afraid to give the person a hug or simply hold their hand. These gestures can be reassuring.
Allow Plenty of Time for a Response
Individuals with Alzheimer’s often take longer to process the information they hear. It is normal for there to be a longer than normal pause before the person responds to you after you have spoken. It is important to give the person plenty of time to respond before you continue talking as it can take several moments for the person to put together a response in their head before becoming verbal. You also want to avoid interrupting a person with Alzheimer’s when they are talking as this can break the pattern of communication and cause confusion.
Consult with an In-Home Care Agency
Family members often have difficulty learning how to effectively communicate with their loved ones with Alzheimer’s disease. Fortunately, there is help available. When you work with a reputable in-home care agency, you can learn new communication techniques that make it easier to talk to someone with dementia. An in-home care agency can also provide other valuable services, such as assistance with daily living activities, certified Alzheimer’s care training, and C.A.R.E.S. techniques. Certified aides can also tend to your loved one’s social needs by providing one-on-one interactions in a stimulating and comfortable social environment.
As Alzheimer’s disease continues to progress, communication can become more and more impaired. This impairment often leads to confusion, stress, and frustration for the person impacted by the disease. When this occurs, caregivers must learn to communicate effectively through a variety of techniques and listening tactics. Know that even if a person with Alzheimer’s disease is able to express themselves clearly, they may still experience feelings of confusion or have trouble understanding others. For more information about how to effectively communicate with people with Alzheimer’s disease or to learn more about at-home Alzheimer’s care services, call or contact an in-home care agency today.