Senior Health | September 14, 2021
Alzheimer’s: Communication Tips – The most debilitative and indicative symptom of Alzheimer’s is the gradual loss of words and understanding which are crucial to even the most basic communication that most of us take for granted. Alzheimer’s patients realize there is a problem, even though they may not have the capacity to understand what is happening. This can cause instances of confusion, fright, and frustration for the sufferer of Alzheimer’s disease as well as for loved ones and caregivers of those with Alzheimer’s.
In an effort to help those dealing with seniors who are suffering from Alzheimer’s, the Alzheimer’s Association™ suggests the following tips to achieve better communication in spite of the disease.
First, it is important to learn to recognize the changes in communication and behavior in those with Alzheimer’s. Secondly, learn how to assist in communication, and then to identify and adapt to efficient ways of communication unique to the individual Alzheimer’s sufferer.
Know that is important to be not only patient but also supportive when trying to communicate. Take the time to listen with no interruptions or criticisms. Offer reassurance that they can take their time to try to form their thoughts into proper words and try not to correct any misused words. Many times there is meaning behind those words and if you take the time you may discover what that is. Focus on the emotion that may lie within the words. Nuances in voice tone as well as hand gestures or facial expressions can be critical for you to observe and analyze to determine the meaning behind the words being spoken.
At times you may become angry or frustrated yourself but understand that criticizing or arguing only serves to increase levels of discomfort and agitation for those with Alzheimer’s. Instead, practice patience and offer occasional suggestions for words they are trying to speak. When appropriate, retreat to a quiet place to communicate. Noise and crowds may intimidate the Alzheimer’s patient, resulting in increased frustration and anxiety as well as decreased verbalization. Sometimes, all the person needs is a bit of quiet to organize their thoughts and correctly verbalize them.
If the sufferer is in the late stages of Alzheimer’s there are other measures you can take to improve communication efforts. Let the person know who you are to create a sense of familiarity. Use simple words and sentences and speak slowly in a lowered tone of voice. Be prepared to repeat your questions or information you are imparting, and also be prepared for Alzheimer’s sufferers to repeat themselves. Be respectful, calm, and caring in your actions and tone of voice. Using signals or written words to communicate or as reminders can be extremely helpful.
Above all, remain positive even in the face of adversity. Alzheimer’s disease is extremely trying for the patient and the caregiver, family member, or friend who is dealing with a loved one suffering from Alzheimer’s. Remember, the challenges are neither your fault nor theirs. Patience, understanding, and compassion on your part can mean the difference between failure and success in effective communication.
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Alzheimer’s Association. Communication and alzheimer’s. Retrieved on November 8, 2010