May 17, 2017

10 Tips for Communicating with an Alzheimer's and Dementia Patients

Do not argue with a person living with Alzheimer's. It gets you nowhere.

10 Good tips on how to take care of an Alzheimer's patient.

Ever feel like you just weren’t getting through or able to deal effectively with a person living with Alzheimer's or a related dementia?

Try some of these tips to see if they help.

By Carole Larkin
Alzheimer's Reading Room

Article - Tips for communicating with Alzheimer’s and dementia patients

1. Make eye contact
Always approach them face-to-face and make eye contact. Use their name if you need to. It is vital that they actually see you and that their attention is focused on you.

Read their eyes.

Always approach from the front as approaching and speaking from the side or from behind can startle them.

2. Be at their level
Move your head to be at the same level as their head.

Bend your knees or sit down to reach their level. Do not stand or hover over them – it is intimidating and scary. They can’t focus on you and what you are saying if they are focused on their fear.

3. Tell them what you are going to do before you do it

Particularly if you are going to touch them. They need to know what is coming first so that they don’t think that you are grabbing them.

4. Speak calmly
Always speak in a calm manner with an upbeat tone of voice, even if you don’t feel that way. If you sound angry or agitated, they will often mirror that feeling back to you and then some.

5. Speak slowly
Speak at one half of your normal speed when talking to them. Take a breath between each sentence. They can not process words as fast as non-diseased people can. Give them a chance to catch up to your words.

6. Speak in short sentences
Speak in short direct sentences with only one idea to a sentence. Usually they can only focus on only one idea at a time.

7. Only ask one question at a time
Let them answer it before you ask another question. You can ask who, what, where and when, but NOT why. Why is too complicated. They will try to answer, fail and get frustrated.

8. Don’t say “remember”
Many times they will not be able to do so, and you are just pointing out to them their shortcomings.

That is insulting, and can cause anger and/or embarrassment.

9. Turn negatives into positives
For example say “Let’s go here” instead of  “Don’t go there”. Be inclusive and don’t talking down to them as if they were a child. Respect the fact that they are an adult, and treat them as such.

10. Do not argue with them
It gets you nowhere.

Instead, validate their feelings, by saying” I see that you are angry (sad, upset, etc…). It lets them know that they are not alone and then redirect them into another thought.

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Search the Alzheimer's Reading Room for Answers to Your Questions, and Solutions to Problems

Carole Larkin MA,CMC,CAEd,QDCS,EICS,
is a Geriatric Care Manager who specializes in helping families with Alzheimer’s and related dementias issues. She also trains caregivers in home care companies, assisted livings, memory care communities, and nursing homes in dementia specific techniques for best care of dementia sufferers. ThirdAge Services LLC, is located in Dallas, TX.

Source Alzheimer's Reading Room