Communicating with someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia isn’t always easy. Sometimes, our attempts may even cause anxiety or anger. When our usual methods don’t work, we need to find new ways to get our message across. In this article, Honor shares 5 top tips for clear Alzheimer’s communication.
When Alzheimer’s hits, clear communication becomes significantly more challenging. With a little understanding, a lot of patience, and a few new compassionate strategies, you can make a big difference in the quality of life for you and your older adult.
Alzheimer’s is the most common type of dementia. It’s caused when high levels of certain proteins damage brain cells in the region of the brain that affects learning. Memory problems are typically the first sign of Alzheimer’s. As the disease advances, it leads to increasingly severe symptoms, including disorientation, mood and behavior changes, and deepening confusion.
We know that Alzheimer’s also takes a heavy toll on family caregivers. Nearly 60% of Alzheimer’s and dementia caregivers rate their emotional stress as high or very high and many discuss the reality of new family conflicts.
To help minimize stress and improve relationships, we spoke with family caregivers and care professionals to create a list of 5 meaningful tips for communicating with someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia.
- Communication is 93% non-verbal. Smiling often, making good eye contact, and punctuating your words with a gentle, loving touch can help someone understand you and feel more relaxed in the process.
- Understand that short-term memory loss is one of the first symptoms of Alzheimer’s and accept that you will have to repeat yourself – often. Work on staying calm so you can avoid feeling frustration or anger which will only make the situation worse.
- Speak naturally and clearly in a calm, warm voice. Even with severe dementia, an adult still wants and deserves to be talked to as an adult – respectfully.
- If you’re trying to communicate something important, choose a familiar location and a time when your older adult is doing well. Minimize any distractions that could make it difficult to focus on your words.
- Be an active – and patient – listener. If you don’t understand what your older adult is trying to say, gently let them know that and ask them to say it in another way.
Remember, communication doesn’t end when someone gets diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or dementia. Adults coping with chronic illnesses that impact their ability to communicate still deserve to have a say in decisions that affect their lives. It’s important to remember how you can be an advocate and an ally to those you love, while practicing good self-care too.
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— 3 Ways to Respond When Someone with Alzheimer’s Says I Want to Go Home
— How to Help Someone with Alzheimer’s: 5 Essential Tips from Expert Teepa Snow [Video]
Guest contributor: Honor is a comprehensive home care company helping older adults continue to live safely in their own homes as they age. Currently providing care in California and Texas, Honor offers a higher level of in-home care by combining the best professional caregivers with smart, easy-to-use technology that makes scheduling, delivering, and managing care simple and safe.
Image: Voces Femeninas
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