For the millions of people today who act as temporary, primary or even part-time caregivers for an individual with Alzheimer’s disease, one of the biggest obstacles that caregivers tend to face has to do with communication. As Alzheimer’s disease progresses, it becomes increasingly difficult for that individual to communicate in the way they once did. This is why caregivers, friends and loved ones need to understand some of the communication “dos” and “don'ts” of talking with someone who has Alzheimer’s disease. Here are some of the main “dos” and “don'ts” to keep in mind:
•Speak slowly so your loved one has time to process what you are saying.
•Always remind the individual who you are, in case they have forgotten.
•Call your loved one, and other people you are talking about by name.
•Keep your messages short, simple and to the point.
•Use repetition as much as you need.
•Put yourself in a position where the individual can see your face and read your body language.
•Use questions that can be answered with “yes” or “no.”
•Talk to your loved one in an environment with minimal distractions.
•Never get frustrated with your loved one when talking to them.
•Don’t talk to seniors with Alzheimer’s as if they are children.
•Don’t use the phrase “try to remember” or any similar term suggesting they should remember something.
•Do not talk in paragraphs.
•Don’t try to challenge your loved one into remembering something.
•Do not point out when your loved one struggles to remember something.
•Never use lots of pronouns, it can become confusing.
•Don’t use sarcasm or irony.
•Don’t use slang.
•Do not talk about the individual as if they aren’t there.
Some of these communication tips can seem fairly obvious and straight forward. However, tips like these can go a really long way in helping any senior and their loved ones communicate more efficiently. It is important to remember that communication is a two way street. Just as your loved one has had to change the way they communicate due to their illness, you will also need to change the way that you communicate, due to their illness.
The more straightforward you can be when communicating with an individual with Alzheimer’s the better off you will be. It may take time to adjust to your new communication style and there may be times when you are overwhelmed or frustrated, but in the end, really working on your technique can make a great deal of difference in your quality of life and your loved one’s quality of life as well.
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