Alzheimer’s and Communication: Caregiver Tips
Alzheimer’s disease is a degenerative neurological disorder that impacts the brain in a complex set of ways. One of those ways includes negatively affecting speech and language abilities. As a result, those living with Alzheimer’s experience a reduced ability to talk and communicate effectively over time. You may notice that your loved one cannot remember words they used to use. Or they may become confused if you talk to them too quickly. This can create frustration for them, as well as family members that interact with them.
As a family caregiver, you are required to communicate with your loved one. But what happens when communication starts becoming increasingly difficult? In this blog, we want to share ways to communicate more effectively with your aging loved one. This is especially useful for those who have loved one’s in the mid- to late stages of Alzheimer’s, a period when speech and language abilities can be greatly diminished.
Consider these Tips
Do not interrupt: Your loved one may still be able to talk but their ability to retrieve words like before may have worsened. As a result, they may have a lot of difficulty speaking to you. During these moments, even if you can guess what they will say, do not interrupt your loved one. This can cause frustration on top of an already frustrating situation. And if someone is experiencing a lot of difficulty trying to say something, ask if they can just show you or gently provide cue words to help remind them.
Keep it simple: If you know your loved one is experiencing some language problems, do not overwhelm with details. Ask them simple and straightforward questions, and keep commands just as simple. One example of this is if you want to ask them a question, try to find a way phrase the questions as a “yes” or “no” question. For example, instead of saying “What have you had to drink today?”, say “Have you drank water today?” This strategy can help avoid misunderstanding and frustration.
Listen: Listening is not only about using your ears to hear someone. Listening is understanding. When your loved one is trying to express something to you, take the time to look them in the eyes and understand what they are saying. Not only will they feel heard, you can ensure that you understand them correctly.
Non-verbal communication: This kind of communication includes any kind of expression that is unvoiced, like facial expressions or body movements. Believe it or not, humans pick up on a large amount of non-verbal communication every time we interact socially. This is no different for someone living with a degenerative neurological disorder.
Your facial expressions, body posture, and even the tone of your voice might still be interpreted. When you communicate, be sure to express kindness and gentleness through facial expressions so that your loved one does not return the frustration by becoming aggravated or unhappy. Lastly, as your loved one’s condition might worsen, they might begin using non-verbal communication (like gestures or facial expressions) a lot more. It is important that you pay attention to this, as body language can give you the information you need to respond to your loved one.
If you have any other questions, please call ElderCare at Home at 888-285-0093 or visit our website.