Changes in Communication
As Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month continues, we want to discuss a very important topic- communication and Alzheimer’s. As the disease progresses, a person’s ability to communicate gradually diminishes. Changes in communication vary from person to person, but there are several common issues you can expect to see, including difficulty finding the right words and organizing words logically.
If someone you love is living with the disease, you know it can be challenging at times to communicate with them. The video above discusses the following ten tips for effectively communicating with your loved one.
- Never argue. Instead, listen.
- Never reason. Instead, divert.
- Never shame. Instead, distract.
- Never lecture. Instead, reassure.
- Never say ‘remember.’ Instead, reminisce.
- Never say ‘you can’t.’ Instead, remind them what they can do.
- Never say ‘I told you.’ Instead, just repeat.
- Never demand. Instead, just ask.
- Never condescend. Instead, encourage.
- Never force. Instead, reinforce.
Help Make Communication Easier
In addition to these tips, there are steps you can take to help make communication easier, including:
- Making eye contact and calling the person by name
- Being aware of things like your tone, how loud your voice is, how you look at them, and your body language
- Encouraging two-way conversation for as long as possible
- Using other methods, such as gently touching
- Distracting the person if communication creates problems
You also want to encourage the person to communicate with you. You can do this by doing things like holding their hand while you talk and showing a warm, loving manner. It is also important to be patient with angry outbursts and remember that it is just the illness talking.
If The Person is Aware of Memory Loss
Since the disease is being diagnosed at earlier stages, many people are aware of how it is impacting their memory. This can make communication even more sensitive because they may become frustrated when they are aware of the memory loss. Here are some tips for how to help someone who knows they have memory problems.
- Take time to listen. They may want to talk about the changes they are noticing
- Be as sensitive as you can and try to understand it is a struggle for them to communicate. Don’t correct them every time they forget something or say something odd
- Be patient when they have a difficult time finding the right words
- Find a balance between helping them find the right words and putting words in their mouth
- Be aware of nonverbal communication. As they lose the ability to speak clearly, they may rely on other ways to communicate their thoughts and feelings
For more information on Alzheimer’s disease and how it impacts communication, visit the links or reach out to the contacts below:
** NIA Alzheimer’s and Related Dementias Education and Referral (ADEAR) Center