Alzheimer’s disease is an illness of the brain. It causes large numbers of nerve cells in the brain to die. This affects a person’s ability to remember things and think clearly. People with AD become forgetful and easily confused. They may have a hard time concentrating and behave in odd ways. These problems get worse as the illness gets worse, making your job as caregiver harder. It’s important to remember that the disease, not the person with AD, causes these changes.
Challenge #1: Changes in Communication Skills
Communication is hard for people with AD because they have trouble remembering things. They may struggle to find words or forget what they want to say. You may feel impatient and wish they could just say what they want, but they can’t. It may help you to know more about common communication problems caused by AD. Once you know more, you’ll have a better sense of how to cope.
Here are some communication problems caused by AD:
- Trouble finding the right word when speaking
- Problems understanding what words mean
- Problems paying attention during long conversations
- Loss of train-of-thought when talking
- Trouble remembering the steps in common activities, such as cooking a meal, paying Â Â bills, getting dressed, or doing laundry
- Problems blocking out background noises from the radio, TV, telephone calls, or Â Â Â conversations in the room
- Frustration if communication isn’t working
- Being very sensitive to touch, tone, and loudness of voices
Also, AD causes some people to get confused about language. For example, the person might forget or no longer understand English if it was learned as a second language. Instead, he or she might understand and use only the first language learned, such as Spanish.
Stay-tuned for Challenge # 2 and # 3 to follow later this week.
Elayne Forgie, CMC,SRES
ElderCare at Home