Communication gets harder for a person with Alzheimer's disease. He might struggle to find a way to express himself, or forget the meaning of words and phrases. He might start to rely on gestures, especially as his verbal skills decline.
How you communicate with your loved one with Alzheimer's disease will be different than it used to be, but there are a few ways you can make it easier for both of you:
Today, there is no cure for Alzheimer's. Researchers are still trying to fully understand how the disease leads to memory loss and other problems with thinking and behavior. They hope to one day reverse those changes to prevent or stop the disease.
But if you or a loved one has Alzheimer’s, there are treatments that can make a difference. Some therapies ease the symptoms and help people do better for longer. Because the disease’s effects change over time, people often need to have their treatments...
Get his attention. Make sure you have your loved one’s attention before you start talking. Approach him from the front, identify yourself, and call him by name.
Be attentive. Show that you’re listening and trying to understand what he’s saying. Keep eye contact as you talk. Use a gentle, relaxed tone of voice and friendly facial expressions.
Hands away. Try to keep your hands away from your face when you’re talking. Also, avoid mumbling or talking with food in your mouth.
Mind your words. Speak distinctly, but don't shout. Try not to talk too fast or too slow. Use pauses to give the person time to process what you're saying. Use short, simple, and familiar words.
Keep it simple. Give one-step directions. Ask one question at a time. Call people and things by name instead of “she,” “they,” or “it.”
Be positive. Instead of saying, "Don't do that," say, "Let's try this."
Treat him with respect. Don't talk down to him or speak to others as if he’s not there or doesn’t understand you.
Rephrase rather than repeat. If the listener has a hard time understanding what you're saying, find a different way to say it. If he didn't understand the words the first time, he probably won’t get them a second time.
Adapt to your listener. Try to understand the words and gestures your loved one is using to communicate. Don't force him to try to understand your way of conversing.
Reduce background noise. Noise from the TV or radio makes it harder to hear and it competes with you for the listener's attention. Cut down on any sounds that will distract him.
Be patient. Encourage him to keep expressing his thoughts, even if he’s having trouble getting them across. Be careful not to interrupt. Try not to criticize, correct, or argue with him.
Also, remember that non-verbal communication is important for a person with Alzheimer’s disease. Your presence, touch, gestures, and attention can remind him of your acceptance, reassurance, and love.