Communication and Alzheimer’s Disease
The Onslaught of Alzheimer’s
Communicating with a loved one who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease can be challenging. Alzheimer’s disease slowly erodes the afflicted person’s ability to communicate. Their expressions and words may make little or no sense to you at all. Tempers can easily become frayed, which can make communicating that much more difficult.
People with Alzheimer’s may graduate to a level where they have extreme difficulty expressing their emotions and thoughts. Understanding others is just as difficult for them. There are a number of things you or others can do to help ease any frustrations and assist with helping a person with Alzheimer’s to communicate:
- Be supportive and patient. Support and patience helps a person understand that you care about what they’re saying or tying to express. Be careful not to interrupt at any time. Take your time when talking. Ask questions and listen.
- Reassure and comfort that person. If that person is having trouble communication, encourage them to continue explaining their thoughts.
- Avoid correcting or criticizing. Find that state of mind that allows you to open up to that individual. Even when that person says something that’s incorrect, avoid correcting them.
- Avoid arguments. People will always say things that you might disagree with. People who suffer from Alzheimer’s are no different. In any circumstance, arguing only makes things worse. Arguments can only heighten the level of agitation for the person with dementia.
- Encourage unspoken communication. There’s likely to be many occasions where you won’t understand what the person is saying. This could be the perfect occasion to ask them to make a gesture or point.
- Avoid distractions. Quiet places are the best places to communicate with a loved one, friend, or family member. The fewer distractions, the easier it is for the both of you to communicate.
- Remember that feelings, not facts, are the most important elements in communicating. Emotions can be far more important than the words expressed when a person suffers from dementia. Their tone of voice or actions can often provide a clue to what they’re trying to convey.
- Turn a question into an answer. Instead of asking a person if they need to use the restroom, simply say, “The restroom is right here.”
The most important thing to remember is that your attitude makes all the difference in the world. Your body movements and facial expressions should always be positive and friendly. Alzheimer’s and dementia are diseases that slowly rob people of their sense of self-reliance and self-worth. Your caring attitude and support can help them maintain their dignity for as long as time will permit.