How to Improve Communication with an Alzheimer’s Patient

Woman Assisting Elderly

Alzheimer’s disease gradually erodes a person’s verbal communication skills. As these skills decline, communication with a person with this type of dementia becomes a challenge.

Luckily, there are strategies that can help ease frustration and enhance communication. Here are tips to help you improve communication with a loved one with the disease.
Show Respect

Treat your loved one with dignity and respect. Avoid using talking with a “baby voice.” And when you visit your loved one in a memory care unit in Provo, don’t just talk to caregivers or companions. Don’t talk about the patient as if he or she is not there.

Be Attentive

Don’t speak until you get your loved one’s attention. Call him or her by name and maintain eye contact as you speak. As he or she speaks, listen actively.

Practice Patience

Don’t interrupt, criticize, correct, or argue with your loved one. Instead, show that you’re listening and trying your best to understand. Try a timeout if angry outbursts frustrate you.

Keep It Simple

Lengthy requests and directions can overwhelm a person with Alzheimer’s disease. Use short sentences and offer clear one-step instructions. As dementia progresses, ask one “yes or no question” at a time.

Minimize Distractions

A background of competing sounds and sights can hamper communication. Cut down on things that may distract the person with memory problems.

Adapt to the Person

As your loved continues to struggle with expressing himself or herself, he or she may start relying on gestures. Be aware of this and try to encourage this nonverbal communication. Ask the patient to point or gesture when you can’t understand what he or she is trying to say.

As Alzheimer’s disease progresses, communicating with your loved one will change. Understand the expected changes in your loved one’s skills and try to make communication easier. Your presence, attention, respect, and patience will remind the person of your love, acceptance, and reassurance.