When thinking about Alzheimer’s it is important to remember that the patient isn’t the only victim. Family and friends must share in the burden, which can be especially difficult if the former loved one no longer feels like family. The question becomes: how do you care for this stranger–this stranger who just so happens to look like your loved one? If your loved one has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s it’s important to be prepared for this emotionally. And it’s also a good idea to learn how you can still communicate with them throughout the course of the illness. Here are 10 tips that can make communicating with Alzheimer’s patients easier and more successful.
10 Tips for Alzheimer’s Communication
Many families will quickly realize that their loved one is no longer able to communicate as they once did. Maybe a mother and daughter always teased one another playfully, but now the mom doesn’t react the same way. Even worse, she might not realize what her daughter means, or she might even be offended by the teasing.
1 – Face them when speaking
It’s often difficult for Alzheimer’s patients to recognize when someone is speaking to them. To make this easier, make sure you face your loved one when addressing them. This will also improve their ability to understand you.
2 – Make eye contact
This tip is similar to the one above. If you’re not standing facing them while speaking, you also can’t make eye contact.
3 – Meet them on their level
If both you and they are standing that’s fine. But if they’re sitting on a chair it’s best if you kneel in front of them. This is especially important if they are in a wheelchair. Otherwise they will have to look up at you and they may feel you’re towering over them.
4 – Don’t talk too fast
Slow down when you talk to your loved one, and make sure to enunciate every word.
5 – Don’t make sudden or abrupt movements
Quick and unexpected movements may scare the person. Keep things slow, and if you have to move quickly make sure to stat you will do so beforehand.
6 – Shake their hand when you visit
People with dementia enjoy being touched– this can be very therapeutic and comforting for them. When you visit, put your hand out to shake their hand, and they may reach for yours. If they don’t, just let it go and move on.
7 – Laugh with them
Alzheimer’s disease isn’t fun– it’s serious and it kills. But, everyone can use a good laugh sometimes. Laughter is a powerful medicine. When you visit your loved one, tell them a funny story. Sometimes, they might tell you one too.
8 – Try visual cues and gestures
If you want them to use a particular item, point, touch, or hand it to them. To give you an example: if you want to eat some dinner, point to the plate and then your mouth, and perhaps hand them the fork too.
9 – Don’t cross your arms
Crossed arms is considered a sign of anger or discontent. This isn’t helpful when interacting with someone who had Alzheimer’s or dementia. Keep your arms uncrossed and use natural body language.
10 – Smile
Last, but not lease, smile a little. You will want to do this at any time (except if the conversation is more serious), but particularly when you’re telling the person something pleasant or humorous and when the person is telling you something of a like nature.
Using these tips can help you communicate with Alzheimer’s patients more easily. And perhaps if will make visits with your loved one a little more fun for everyone.
If you’re looking for a stellar memory care community for your loved one, look no further. Contact Stellar Senior Living today for more information about our Alzheimer’s and dementia care facilities and nationwide. Click here to find a facility near you or give us a call at 801.495.7000.
Stellar Senior Living is one of the leading providers of Alzheimer’s and Dementia care in the U.S. Through our unique Rising Stars Program, we provide our memory care residents with a happy and fulfilled experience. We offer a wide range of activities, and use the Montessori method, which encourages residents to experience and do more. Residents live within Memory Care Neighborhoods; living spaces specifically designed to support the cognitive challenges brought on by Alzheimer’s disease.