Communication is difficult when someone has Alzheimer’s
If you care for someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia, you know that communication can be challenging. Fortunately, there are techniques you can use to make it easier to get through to your older adult.
One of the most effective ways is to keep your sentences short and direct.
Keep it short and sweet
Alzheimer’s and dementia affect the brain’s ability to process and retrieve information. That can make it nearly impossible to listen and respond to conversation the way we usually talk.
Short, direct sentences with only one thought per sentence are easier for your senior to understand. Anything that’s long or complex gets overwhelming because it’s too much to process.
This technique might feel weird at first because we’re used to making friendly conversation to show that we care. But combining fewer words with a warm and positive tone will be less frustrating for your senior and just as kind.
What you could say instead
It takes a little practice to communicate clearly using very few words. Here are some examples to show what we mean.
Example 1: You need your older adult to go to the restroom
DO say: It’s time to go to the bathroom.
DON’T say: It’s been about an hour since you last visited the bathroom so why don’t we go to the bathroom and you can give it a try. Ok? How does that sound? Do you want to go to the bathroom now?
Example 2: It’s time for your senior to have lunch
DO say: Mmmmm, it’s time to eat spaghetti!…(pause)…Let’s walk to the kitchen together.
DON’T say: Are you hungry? It’s time for lunch. Today we’re going to have spaghetti – your favorite! Let’s go to the kitchen so you can eat. After lunch, we’ll go outside for a walk so you can get some fresh air.
Example 3: You’re taking your older adult to a doctor appointment
DO say: It’s time to go out…(pause)…Here’s your jacket…(pause)…Let’s get into the car.
DON’T say: We’re going to see Dr. Lee today. She’s going to check to see how you’re doing with those new medications. Remember how we had to reschedule the appointment from last month? I’m glad she had an opening this soon. You know what? It’s a little chilly today, why don’t you put on your jacket and then we’ll go out to the car.
Example 4: A family member or friend has come to visit
DO say: It’s Mike, your brother!…(pause)…He’s come to say hello!
DON’T say: Oh look who it is! Do you remember that Mike was just here last week? You had so much fun talking about playing baseball together when you were kids.
When someone has Alzheimer’s or dementia, listening and responding to normal conversation becomes very difficult. Using short, direct sentences helps you communicate with your older adult more effectively and in a way that’s more comfortable for them.
These are just some suggestions for how to talk to someone with Alzheimer’s. Everyone is different, so the best thing to do is experiment to figure out what works best for your situation.
Additional articles on caring for your loved one with dementia can be found at Daily Caring can be found at: http://dailycaring.com/
I will be sharing more information from this source as time goes on.
Have a Great Day! Rosalyn