It’s painful to witness the deterioration in the communication skills of a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease. Fortunately, once you start to empathize with what’s going on in their head while embracing simple communication tips with Alzheimer’s patients, you’ll be on your way to having deeper connections and a smoother journey with them.
How Alzheimer’s Disease Affects Communication
As we age, our brains change and gradually lose neurons. According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, signs of dementia start when one’s healthy nerve cells or neurons in the brain stop working with other cells surrounding it and die. Individuals with Alzheimer’s disease experience a severe loss of neurons, which affects problem-solving skills, visual perception, memory, focus, language skills, and communication. This is when communication tips with Alzheimer’s patients come in handy.
Although changes in ability vary from person to person, you can expect to experience the following signs in your loved one:
- Difficulty organizing words logically
- Describing objects instead of calling them by name
- Using familiar words repeatedly
- Reverting to speaking a native language
How Communication with an Alzheimer’s Patient Should Differ in Varying Stages
Signs of Alzheimer’s disease may vary, but there are countless communication tips with Alzheimer’s patients you can use to improve conversations with your loved one based on stages.
- Early stage
A person is usually still able to engage in social activities and participate in meaningful conversations, but you might find them repeating stories or feeling overwhelmed by excessive stimulation. Speak to them directly instead of to their caregiver and avoid excluding them from conversations.
- Middle stage
While they’re explaining their thoughts, it is crucial to maintain eye contact to show you care about what they’re saying. Ask more yes or no questions, and one at a time. Giving visual cues and demonstrating a task while offering assurance is immensely helpful during conversations.
- Late stage
As one with the disease advances, they may rely more on nonverbal communication like hand gestures and facial expressions, so be sure to give more focus on those aspects. This may last from several weeks to years, and around-the-clock care is usually required at this stage.
Top Communication Tips with Alzheimer’s Patients
On top of remaining understanding, patient, and clear, here are a few simple tips that will help in boosting your bond with your loved one.
- Use your name and others’ names when introducing yourself rather than by relationship. Instead of trying to reorient to the present, you may also find this useful for close family members like a daughter or partner.
- Avoid jumping in when they’re struggling to find a word. It may be tempting, but it’s best to get comfortable in waiting for their response to avoid unintentionally derailing their thought process for a rushed answer.
- Recognize what you’re up against during this difficult journey. This means educating yourself more on ways you can create moments of joy with your loved one while keeping a positive approach to care.
Why Choose The Summit?
Understanding Alzheimer’s disease will help in empathizing more with your loved one’s journey. At The Summit, our SHINE® Memory Care is one of the very few programs in America which has received a national Certificate of Recognition from the Alzheimer’s Association.
If you have any inquiries about the range of services we offer, don’t hesitate to contact us today.