How To Talk To Someone With Alzheimer’s Disease

How To Talk To Someone With Alzheimer's Disease 1

People with Alzheimer’s disease find it difficult to communicate since they have difficulty remembering things. As the condition progresses, a person’s capacity to express themselves declines. Some people may have difficulty finding the right words to express their thoughts. Despite your frustration, there is just no way for them to express their thoughts and feelings. 

It takes patience, empathy, and listening skills to communicate effectively with someone who has Alzheimer’s disease. This is a part of taking care of senior health, because as people age, this kind of illness starts to surface. You need to find an effective way to manage the needs of the person with this condition for you to handle it with more patience and flexibility.

The strategies listed below can enable you and the individual suffering from Alzheimer’s disease to better understand one another:

  • Avoid Questions That Challenge Short-Term Memory  

Keep away from questions like, ‘Do you recall what we did yesterday?’ The response is likely to be ‘no,’ which can humiliate someone with Alzheimer’s. They do their best to come up with an answer that makes sense to them, which can lead to sudden bodily discomfort. Questions like this cause anxiety because they know they have failed. 

  • Don’t Counter Aggressive Behavior 

People with Alzheimer’s may display aggressive behavior as a reaction to their surroundings. The violent behavior is commonly seen during bath time. When you rush, talk angrily, or force them, they respond aggressively. The aggressive behavior of someone with memory loss is a kind of communication. When someone is strongly expressing themselves, it is important to show respect for that communication style. Pushing, kicking, and biting are their means of saying ‘stop.’ The right thing to do at this point is to stop. Try again after five minutes or an hour. 

  • Make Use Of The Senses 

Engage with them by introducing conversational topics involving their senses. What are their favorite things to see, smell, taste, feel, or hear about? This may be anything as simple as the sound of birds in the morning, a glimpse of the sky, or the scent of a certain flower to trigger a response. In addition, these preferences could be used to help decide which activities suits them. 

  • Refrain From Saying ‘No,’ ‘Don’t,’ Or ‘Can’t’ 

Dealing with memory loss may be challenging, and one of the worst mistakes you can make is telling them they can’t do anything. Words such as ‘no,’ ‘don’t,’ and ‘can’t’ elicit a negative response. When they’re told ‘no,’ they might become combative. Instead of telling them, they can’t do something, tell them about instances that will encourage them to allow you to assist them. 

  • Don’t Talk Down To Them 

Don’t use baby talk, which doesn’t help and can be quite offensive to someone with Alzheimer’s. The fact that someone has difficulty communicating does not imply that speaking to them in a childlike manner would be beneficial. Regardless of how much a person suffering from Alzheimer’s have a hard time to be understand or be understood, they should still be treated with respect and with a polite tone of voice in all circumstances. 

  • Don’t Answer Questions Regarding Bad Memories 

Most of the challenging questions that persons with Alzheimer’s ask are about people who have died in the past. Patients and loved ones don’t need to be reminded that a person they’re asking about has died.  

Redirect them by asking them to tell stories about the individual they were referring to rather than avoiding the topic. People suffering from memory loss usually want the comfort and feeling of security they would experience if their loved ones were around. 

Attempting to insist the present to someone who has Alzheimer’s disease is ineffective. You should adjust your behavior to their reality. To converse, travel with them in the past as if it’s the present reality. 

  • Use ‘I’ Messages 

Use ‘I’ messages together with gestures instead of ‘you’ messages if you want to communicate with them effectively. Communication is improved when the pronoun ‘you’ is minimized. This way, you are not putting any pressure on them to think of something they have difficulty remembering. 

  • Shorten Your Sentences 

If the person who has Alzheimer’s is having difficulty understanding you, your message may be too complicated for them to comprehend. Repeat as many times as necessary using simple phrases and sentences.  

Keep your questions to the point and simple. Yes or no questions are more effective than open-ended ones. Do not overwhelm a patient or loved one with too many instructions at once. If they still have difficulty understanding, visual clues might help. 

Final Word 

Taking care of a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease or any form of dementia may be a grueling and emotionally draining experience. There’s a high possibility the difficulties you face may leave you feeling discouraged, frustrated, and even distressed.  

However, recognizing the condition and learning how to interact with someone with Alzheimer’s may make a huge difference. Since there is a known cure for Alzheimer’s, it’s typically your care and attention that makes the most impact on your loved one’s quality of life. That in itself is an incredible gift to them.