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Successful communication with a person who has Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s Disease and other forms of dementia diminish a person’s ability to communicate day by day. This can be frustrating for both the patient and their family members, which often leads to unnecessary conflict and miscommunication. When speaking to a person with Alzheimer’s disease, it’s important to be very aware of one’s listening and speaking strategies. This requires a certain level of patience, understanding, and exceptional listening skills. 

Babette Home Care has a specialized program in Alzheimer’s and Dementia Care. We have specialized caregivers who are skilled in caring for Alzheimer’s and Dementia patients. In honor of November being National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month, we’ve put together helpful tips on how to effectively communicate with a person who has early-stage to late-stage symptoms.  

What to expect when speaking to someone with symptoms? 

There are a few changes in the communication to pay attention to when you are speaking to the patient, these can occur if you are visiting in-person or if you are a call/facetime. Some changes you can expect include; 

  • Problems finding the right words 
  • Continuously using familiar words
  • Frequently losing a train of thought 
  • Describing object other than calling them by name 
  • Speaking less often 
  • Relying on gestures to communicate
  • Reverting to speaking a native language 

Tips on what you can do

Early-Stage Communication

In the early stages of Alzheimer’s or Dementia, the person will still be able to have a meaningful conversation and still participate in various social events. The person might start repeating past conversations or stories and experience anxiety when having difficulty remembering words. Tips on how you can help communication. 

  • Be Patient. 
  • Don’t make assumptions based on the person’s diagnosis. The disease affects each person differently at each stage. 
  • Speak directly to the person and not to the caregiver/companion. 
  • Avoid criticizing, correcting, or arguing. 
  • Practice good listening by allowing the person to share their thoughts and feelings as this is a confusing and stressful time. 
  • Find out what the person is comfortable doing in terms of social activities or interactions. 
  • Discuss which form of communication the person prefers (face-to-face, email, or phone)

Mid-Stage Communication

If a person is in the mid-stages of Alzheimer’s or Dementia, that means their ability to communicate has already deteriorated. The symptoms during this stage usually last longer than in the early or late stages. Tips on how you can help communication during mid-stages. 

  • Have more one-on-one conversations instead of being in group settings.
  • Be in a quiet space that has minimal distractions so that the person won’t feel overwhelmed. 
  • Practice patience and reassure the person. 
  • Ask yes or no questions instead of open-ended questions. For example, “Would you like to eat soup?” rather than “What do you want to eat?”
  • Avoid arguing with the person. 
  • Keep written notes around the house. These could be reminders or certain words they have trouble remembering. 

Late-stage Communication

Late-stage is when the disease has affected the person severely. This could last for weeks or years and around the clock care is needed. In this stage, the person will use more non-verbal styles of communication. Tips on how you can help communication during the late-stages. 

  • Identify yourself to the person and approach the person from the front. 
  • Encourage nonverbal communication, this will help the person get his/her point across easier. 
  • Use different senses such as touch, sights, sounds, smells, and tastes as an alternative form of communication. 
  • This is the stage in which you need the most patience and understanding. 
  • Always treat the person with proper dignity and respect. 
  • Offer comfort when you notice the person is having a hard time expressing themselves. 

Our hope is that these tips will help you and your loved one. When the time comes that your loved one needs home care services, Babette Home Care is here to help and offer professional Alzheimer’s and Dementia programs to support you.

For more information please contact us at https://www.babettehomecare.com/homecare-consultation/ 

For information on our upcoming events please visit: https://www.babettehomecare.com/home/virtualsummit/

This is a FREE online event for all to enjoy. 

Source: https://www.alz.org/help-support/caregiving/daily-care/communications