Communicating with Alzheimers Sufferer

We all know that the Alzheimer’s disease affects people mentally. It basically impacts the person’s ability to recall past events and can dramatically alter that individual’s capacity for communication.

This is why having conversations with people who have Alzheimer’s needs proper attention. After all, their cognitive skills are not the same as the normal ones – and the communication needs patience, understanding and good listening skills.

Here are some tips to keep conversations with a cognitively-impaired loved one positive at all times:

Face Them Off – A friendly eye contact goes a long way when having dialogue with a person suffering from the Alzheimer’s or some other form of dementia. Using their name during conversation is another great way to get their attention.

Diminish Distractions – Any background noise such as the TV, radio or even a fan can distract people suffering from Alzheimer’s. That is why you should always be patient when having a conversation and ideally, find a quiet place where the two of you can converse in peace.

Talk One-on-One – A common rule when conversing with people suffering from Alzheimer’s or dementia is to minimize the number of people involved in the discussion. The more people there are, the more complicated the situation gets – which is why you should keep talks with a person who has Alzheimer’s one-on-one if and whenever possible.

Keep It Simple – According to many experts, comments and conversations with people suffering from the Alzheimer’s should always be kept short and simple. If you are conversing to the point, you will make it easier for the person to understand and reply to your talk. Also, referring to nouns by their actual name (ex.saying ‘dog’ instead of ‘it’) can help them understand the situation and minimize the open-ended questions.

Always Avoid Conflict – Arguing with a person who has Alzheimer’s will only make it hard for them and more agitated for you. That is why you should always avoid inflammatory comments such as ‘I just told you that’ or ‘You are wrong’.

Be Patient And Enter Their World – Last but not least, you should know that patience goes a long way when communicating with people struggling with Alzheimer’s. You should basically enter their world and live in their reality.

In the end, no matter what stage of Alzheimer’s your loved one is in, you should always follow these rules and establish a positive, human connection that is vital to their well being.

Join the conversation! 3 Comments

  1. I spend a lot of quality time as a Reminiscence Coach for persons living with dementia. Your suggestions are spot on. Connection is key! Connection is possible! They are still here, and very much desire to stay connected. It’s so worth making it as easy for them [also failure-free], as possible!

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