Communication Problems and Alzheimer’s
Alzheimer’s disease and other related dementias degenerate the brain. As a result, various functions and abilities are impacted. One of the faculties that become diminished is the ability to speak. This is especially true for frontotemporal dementia because the left frontal lobe is responsible for speech.
Whenever a degenerative neurological disorder impacts speech, it can often vary from person to person depending on the kind of disorder concerned. One of the first symptoms you may notice is that your loved one is having a hard time finding the right words to use in conversations. Sometimes, individuals might forget common nouns like “pepper” or “spoon” and can become confused when some people say these words. Other times it can result in the inability to form long, complex sentences. For a fuller picture of what you can expect, we recommend turning to your health care provider for more detailed advice.
Needless to say, losing the ability to communicate can be very frustrating for both your loved one and you as a family caregiver. It would not be an understatement to say that communication is one of the most important things in human life. So, dealing with this challenge is very difficult, deserving careful thought and consideration.
Some rules of thumb to follow to ease communication with your loved one can be listed as follows:
- Minimize distractions in the environment: Many times, noises, lights, or people in your loved one’s environment can distract them when they are trying to communicate with you. If they are experiencing problems with language, this can make their situation even harder. To provide your loved one with a calm, quiet environment can be conducive for effective communication and concentration.
- Communicate back slowly: Some people with dementia have a hard time interpreting what people are saying to them. To avoid this problem, speak clearly and slowly.
- Simplify questions: Asking open-ended questions can result in frustration in your loved one. If they have trouble communicating, open-ended questions create the potential for confusion, especially if they easily lose track of words or their train of thought. Instead, pose simple “yes” or “no” questions. You can virtually ask any question in this way depending on you phrase it. These kinds of questions will always tell you what you need to know.
- Respect your loved one’s intellectual integrity and independence: In other words, do not “baby” them or speak to them like a child. Many people with a degenerative neurological disease can recognize this, and it is uncomfortable for them. Also, allow them the opportunity to express what they need, even if you have to help them along the way. Keep their independence in mind. Feeling independent is an important component for most individuals, so try to preserve that in your loved one in your day to day interactions.
If you have any more questions, feel free to call ElderCare at Home at 888-285-0093 or visit our website!