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10 Alzheimer's Communication Tips

2012-03-12

10 Must Know Tips for Communicating with Someone Who Has Alzheimer's

Communicating with someone who is experiencing a loss of cognitive function can often be a challenging task. Without instruction from a trained professional, it's nearly impossible to know how to handle a loved who is in need of Alzheimer's care.

Communicating with them can easily become confusing and frustrating. Here is a list of communication tips that we hope will help improve your interactions with those living with dementia or Alzheimer's.

  1. Speak to the individual in a warm, clear and pleasant manner.
  2. The tone of your voice may have more impact than your message when communicating with someone with Alzheimer's disease. Lower your pitch; a lowered pitch is more comforting and less threatening.
  3. Speak slowly and avoid long complex sentences.
  4. Deliver only one instruction at a time. Wait until the first instruction is processed before delivering the next. A single task may need to be broken down into several steps.
  5. Do not talk about the person in the presence of others as if they were not there. A person with Alzheimer's disease many times understands and can be humiliated or embarrassed.
  6. Lower your body to their level and look directly at the person when communicating. You may be able to read their eyes for signs of frustration, distress or anger.
  7. Make use of comforting gestures: touching a hand or back, pointing to an object or handing an object to the resident.
  8. Show the Alzheimer's resident a pleasant smile and show affection where appropriate.
  9. Respond to the feeling content of the message from the Alzheimer's resident. Recognizing the resident's feelings and offering reassurance, even if you can't fix the problem, provides comfort.
  10. Always treat the person with dignity and respect. Do not call older adults "Honey," "Pops," "Sweetie," etc. Ask them what they prefer to be called and follow their preference.

 In addition to these tips, it is important to point out that people with Alzheimer's live in their own world. Contradicting them can be fruitless and the agitation is not worth it. If they believe they need to pick up a youngster from school, acknowledge the need and try to redirect behavior. Remember being right is not what is important. Keeping those with Alzheimer's calm, comfortable and happy is the goal.