5 Communication Strategies for Early and Middle-Stage Alzheimer’s
Each stage of Alzheimer’s brings changes in your loved one’s memory and his or her ability to communicate. Use these strategies to make interactions easier during the early and middle stages.
1. Maintain a Personal Connection
Some people assume cognitive decline means Alzheimer’s patients don’t understand what’s being said, but it’s a mistake to behave as if this were the case. Your loved one is still the same person and should be treated with care and respect. Discuss the method of communication he or she is most comfortable with, and use it to stay in touch on a regular basis.
2. Simplify Questions
Generic questions may confuse your loved one, and multiple choices may seem overwhelming. Instead of asking how your loved one is doing, inquire about specific feelings or emotions. When your loved one needs to decide between options for meals, activities and other basics, make it easier by offering only a couple of choices.
3. Remove Distractions
It’s not easy for a person with Alzheimer’s to pay attention to more than one thing at a time. Eliminate background noise before talking to your loved one, and resist the temptation to multitask. Sit and maintain eye contact to show he or she has your full attention and to help he or she stay focused on the conversation.
4. Don’t Criticize
As the disease progresses, there will be more times when your loved one’s recollections are inaccurate. For the most part, the best thing to do is let mistakes slide. Being critical or asking why he or she doesn’t remember a particular detail will only lead to arguments. Don’t offer correction unless the specifics are important, such as the date of an upcoming doctor’s appointment.
5. Be Patient
Loved ones with Alzheimer’s need more time to gather and articulate thoughts. Allow for this during conversations, and don’t attempt to “help” by finishing sentences or trying to guess what your loved one is saying. If you have a hard time understanding, gently ask him or her for clarification.
Alzheimer’s affects each person differently, so continue to pay attention to your loved one’s communication skills as he or she progresses through the stages. Whether you’re stopping in for a visit or acting as a full-time caregiver, the most important thing is to remain open and empathetic during all your interactions.
At Caring Home Care, we understand what it’s like being the primary caregiver. If you need extra help caring for your loved one, our certified caregivers can provide them with the attention they need. Learn more about us today!