Caregivers of people with Alzheimer’s disease frequently feel overwhelmed by the drastic personality and mood changes affecting their loved one.
Communication with your loved one suffering from Alzheimer’s disease takes good listening skills, patience and understanding. In the early stages of Alzheimer’s, you may notice your loved one is beginning to repeat certain stories or has difficulty finding the right words to convey thoughts. The changes become more pronounced as the disease progresses, and Alzheimer’s caregivers start to notice their loved one is speaking less, easily losing his or her train of thought, or even inventing new words to describe everyday objects.
While communication deterioration is a natural consequence of memory loss, there are ways to improve communications.
Helpful Tips for Communicating with your Loved One with Alzheimer’s disease
- Make eye contact. Identify yourself by name and your relationship. “This is Beth, your daughter.” Also use your loved one’s name. This clarity can be comforting to Alzheimer’s patients, because as the disease progresses many often confuse the generations or relations, mistaking their wife for their mother, for example.
- Body language is important. Tense facial expressions may cause upset or distress and can make communications more difficult. If you’re having trouble understanding what your loved one has said, ask them to use gestures or point to objects. Give visual cues by starting to help them with the task they need to complete, or by pointing to items they need to use.
- Speak in a quiet, relaxing tone of voice. Speak slowly and enunciate clearly. Smiling, hugging and touching are excellent nonverbal communication tools that are gentle and likely to be well-received by the patient. Stay positive and easygoing around your loved one.
- Be patient. Your loved one may need a little time to understand what you just said, so give them a few moments to process. Repeat your statement or question if your loved one does not respond. Try to offer a guess at the word he or she can’t find, and offer reassurance that it’s ok, that he or she can take their time to explain their thoughts.
At American Senior Communities, specialized care for Alzheimer’s patients is provided at Auguste’s Cottage Memory Care, where our social model approach of memory care is key, making them feel at home and offering stimulating daily activities.
For those patients in the early or middle stages of Alzheimer’s disease, our Memory Care Assisted Living Apartments are the perfect option for your loved one, with specially trained caregivers available around the clock.