When a senior is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia, one of the key challenges both initially and as the disease progresses is the struggle to effectively communicate. While the disease affects a person’s speech, it also impacts his or her ability to find and use words correctly, as well as to understand the meanings of words. This can be extremely frustrating for the senior as well as his or her loved ones.
At Senior HomeCare of Tucson, the experts in Alzheimer’s care in Tucson and the surrounding area, our dementia care specialists offer the following Alzheimer’s communication techniques for family caregivers:
- Keep your voice “kind” by smiling as you speak, speaking more slowly, and in a quiet, soothing tone.
- Never speak to the senior as though he or she was a child, but instead, do all that you can to remain patient, kind, adaptive, supportive and calm.
- Limit any potential distractions such as the television or radio, and make eye contact when communicating with the senior.
- Use the person’s name when speaking, and identify yourself as well when needed.
- Speak in short, simple sentences and ask easy-to-answer questions. For instance, when determining what the senior would like for breakfast, ask, “Would you like eggs or oatmeal today?” rather than, “What do you want to eat?”
- Never argue or try to correct someone with dementia.
- Be prepared to repeat your questions or statements when necessary. If the senior doesn’t respond at first, wait a moment to allow him or her to think through what you’ve said, and then try asking again.
- Feelings should be considered over facts; the emotions being expressed are often more relevant than what is being said.
- Let the senior think of and describe things in his or her own way. If the senior uses an incorrect word, or can’t think of a word, try guessing what the correct word is. If you still are unable to figure out what your loved one is trying to say, try asking him or her to gesture, point, or use some other type of similar nonverbal communication.
Communicating is such an important factor in all of our relationships, and that includes older adults with Alzheimer’s. For more dementia communication tips, and to learn more about our specialized, compassionate, and creative Alzheimer’s care in Tucson and the surrounding areas, contact us at 520-355-4787 to request a free in-home consultation.