Communication Strategies for Early- and Middle-Stage Alzheimer’s

Communication Strategies for Early- and Middle-Stage Alzheimer’s

Communication Strategies for Early- and Middle-Stage Alzheimer’s

If you are a family caregiver and have a loved one who recently received an Alzheimer’s diagnosis, you probably have noticed various changes in how your loved one communicates. People in the early stages of Alzheimer’s can usually still communicate effectively and engage in conversations. However, people in the early and middle stages of the illness will experience lapses in memories, i.e. forgetting words and events or repeating themselves. And as the disease progresses, memory loss and confusion becomes worse. [1]

Memory loss can be a frustrating thing to handle as a caregiver, but it is often even more frustrating for the person experiencing it. Today we will share a few tips on how to manage these situations in order to make your loved one feel comfortable in everyday conversations.

  1. Show patience and respect: This may seem obvious, but you will often find yourself challenged to do these two things. People experiencing memory loss may likely repeat themselves or have a difficult time trying to recall events. The only thing you can do is to listen carefully and to not rush the conversation as it may lead to more frustration for both parties.
  2. Avoid correcting or criticizing: Like our first tip, remember to be kind. People experiencing memory loss may incorrectly convey information or past events. As a result, our first reaction would be to correct or critique somebody’s recollection. Instead, gauge the situation and if correcting someone will cause more confusion or discomfort, let the situation pass. If you think it is important to correct someone’s recollection of dates, then maybe it will be beneficial to do so. However, just be patient and if you can guess what your loved one means when they are telling you something inaccurate, then accept what they tell you.
  3. Try not to make assumptions: Everybody experiences different symptoms with Alzheimer’s, so try not to guess that certain behaviors are a result of the illness. This attitude will help you interact more thoughtfully and gently with your loved one. [2]
  4. Give your loved one time: Sometimes your loved one will have to struggle to say what they want to say. But try not to cut them off or finish their sentences for them. This can often be very frustrating for them and take away any sense of independence they have. It is important to allow your loved one to accomplish what they can for themselves, even if it takes them a few extra minutes to get there. [3]
  5. Determine what kind of communication works for your loved one: Sometimes talking in person is too frustrating for your loved one to do. Instead, they may wish to text you or use email. Take some time to figure this out and it will be helpful for everyone!
  6. Talk normally: Those with Alzheimer’s still want to be treated equally. Thus, you should not have to change dramatically your mannerisms or the tone of voice. Sometimes people do this when they talk to children. These kinds of behaviors are noticeable to your loved one and could end up making them feel uncomfortable. Respond to them as you would before knowledge of any diagnosis. 

To summarize these tips in one simple phrase: Be mindful. Always pay attention to your loved one and be patient when they are experiencing lapses of memory. Communication is perhaps one of the most important things in any kind of social situation, make sure you prioritize it as a family caregiver.

Call ElderCare at Home if you have any other questions at 888-285-0093 or visit our website.

[1] Source: http://www.alzheimers.net/2014-04-10/how-alzheimers-evolves/
[2] Source: http://www.alz.org/care/dementia-communication-tips.asp#early
[3] Source: http://www.alz.org/care/dementia-communication-tips.asp#early

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