Many caregivers have learned that as a person’s Alzheimer’s (dementia) gets worse, communicating with them gets harder and more frustrating. Believe it or not, it is not the fault of the person with Alzheimer’s! We need to adjust the way we speak, and we need to understand that as the disease progresses so does a person’s ability to communicate and comprehend ideas and directions. Often, we think they are being stubborn or difficult, so we raise our voices and speak louder, and repeat ourselves, even louder. Here are some tips for communicating with a loved one suffering from Alzheimer’s or a related dementia:
- Be patient and calm. Raising our voice (and emotions) only escalates emotions and problems. Remember: the actual words you use are only 7% of your communication. Body language and tone of voice make up the rest!
- Give brief, one-step directions. Say, “Today we’re going to the doctor.” then after that appointment say, “Now we are going to lunch.” Too much information results in frustration for both of you..
- Avoid quizzing! Never say “Cousin Ernie called yesterday. Remember him!?!?” Quizzing is a very common mistake and should be avoided.
- SMILE! Smiling is a universal language that anyone can understand. Remember, smile and the whole world smiles with you!
Many caregivers say they miss talking, just sharing ideas and conversations, with their loved one. Stay calm and do not get frustrated. The amazing staff in our secure Memory Care Neighborhoods are highly trained to handle these very situations. Call us soon to start planning the next step.