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Alzheimer’s disease is associated with changes in the ability to communicate. A person generally begins having difficulty with communication in the mid to late stages of the disease. Caregivers can use the following strategies for communicating with their senior loved ones living with Alzheimer’s.
1. Include Your Loved One in General Conversations
Older adults should never be ignored during a group conversation since even a quiet senior may still be picking up on what is being said. Be prepared to provide assistance with a response if necessary. While this may require some assertiveness during social situations, your loved one benefits from knowing his or her preferences matter.
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2. Talk While Facing Each Other
Communication involves far more than just words. Always talk to your loved one face to face when you are in the same room, and consider getting closer to his or her level if he or she is in a wheelchair or lying down. This approach also helps your loved one use alternative strategies such as reading your lips to fully understand what you are saying.
3. Minimize Distractions
Noisy and crowded rooms are never the ideal place to hold a conversation, and your loved one may find it difficult to concentrate on what you are saying. Before having an important conversation with your loved one, try turning off the television and other devices to keep his or her focus on the discussion.
4. Offer Visual Hints
Instructions can sometimes be difficult for a person with Alzheimer’s to follow. For this reason, it helps to add visual cues to your speech. For instance, you could point in the direction you want your loved one to look or walk. Alternatively, pat his or her arm for reassurance if you are trying to soothe anxious behavior. The combination of visual hints and oral language bring more clarity to challenging instructions.
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5. Allow Plenty of Time for a Response
Seniors with Alzheimer’s may require more time to formulate a response to questions. Try to keep questions simple and to the point. In some cases, it may be easier to provide questions that can be answered with just “yes” or “no.” For more complicated questions, wait before jumping in with assistance. Your loved one may just need time to process your question and come up with a response.
6. Use Multiple Methods of Communication
Some seniors find certain types of communication easier than others. Work with your loved one to find out how he or she communicates best. For instance, your loved one may prefer to use email so he or she has time to type out a response. Encourage your loved one to express him or herself in a comfortable way.
The days, weeks, and months following an Alzheimer’s diagnosis can be challenging for both seniors and their families. However, these challenges can be made less stressful with the help of caregivers trained in professional Alzheimer’s care. Albuquerque, New Mexico, Home Care Assistance is here to help your loved one enjoy the golden years while simultaneously managing the symptoms of Alzheimer’s. Call us at 505-798-0800 to schedule a free in-home consultation.