Alzheimers and Communication: How to Help Them Communicate

Caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease can be emotionally challenging, especially when the condition begins to affect their ability to communicate effectively.

As Alzheimer’s disease progresses, people may experience difficulty finding the right words, understanding conversations or even recognizing loved ones.

The Alzheimer’s Association provides some practical tips and strategies to help improve communication with a person living with Alzheimer’s disease.

These techniques aim to foster understanding, reduce frustration and strengthen the connection between caregivers and their loved ones.

Alzheimers and Communication

Maintain a Calm and Patient Attitude

One of the most important aspects of communicating with someone with Alzheimer’s is to maintain a calm and patient attitude.

People with Alzheimer’s may have difficulty with comprehension, which can be frustrating for both the caregiver and the individual.

Maintaining patience and composure during conversations can help create a relaxed atmosphere and reduce agitation.

Simplify Language

Using simple, clear, concise language can significantly improve communication.

Avoid using complex sentences, jargon or abstract concepts.

Instead, focus on short, simple phrases and questions. For example, say, “It’s time for lunch,” rather than “Would you like to have lunch now?”.

Be a Good Listener

Listening carefully is key to understanding the person’s needs and feelings.

Give them your full attention, maintain eye contact and avoid interrupting.

Be patient if they take the time to respond or express themselves.

Use Nonverbal Communication

Nonverbal cues, such as body language and facial expressions, can help convey your message.

Smile and make gentle eye contact to express love and reassurance.

Visual aids, such as pictures or gestures, can also facilitate understanding.

Encourage Yes or No Questions

Offering choices in the form of yes or no questions can simplify decision making. For example, ask, “Would you like tea?” instead of “What would you like to drink?”.

Create a Comfortable Environment

A calm, organized environment can aid in communication.

Minimize distractions, keep noise levels low and ensure good lighting.

Familiar surroundings can also help people feel more comfortable.

Maintain a Routine

Establishing a daily routine can be reassuring for a person with Alzheimer’s disease.

Predictable schedules can make it easier for them to understand and anticipate activities, which reduces anxiety.

Use Memory

Encourage storytelling and reminiscing about the past.

Talking about family memories and experiences can stimulate conversation and provide comfort.

Avoid Correcting or Contradicting

It is critical to avoid correcting or contradicting someone with Alzheimer’s. If they make a statement that is inaccurate.

If they make a statement that is inaccurate, it is often best to agree and gently redirect the conversation.

Correcting them can lead to frustration and distress.

Seek Professional Guidance

If you encounter challenges or are concerned about communication, don’t hesitate to seek guidance from health professionals or support groups.

They can offer personalized strategies and advice.

Understanding these communication challenges and tailoring your approach to meet individual needs is crucial to providing meaningful and compassionate care to those living with Alzheimer’s.

For more information visit the Alzheimer’s Association table.

The information contained on the My Health Fair website should not be construed as professional advice or medical recommendations.

Readers should direct any questions regarding personal health care to licensed physicians or other appropriate health care professionals.