You should know how to effectively communicate with a senior with Alzheimer’s or dementia. Because they have difficulty remembering things, there will be times when you may lose your patience. So, instead of feeling impatient, start understanding their condition and learning how to converse. Things are not easy for them as well. They also get frustrated when communication is not working.
What they are going through
People with Alzheimer’s, according to an article from the NIH National Institute on Aging, lose their train of thought when speaking. They tend to stop during a conversation because they can no longer remember what they want or find the right word to say. They also find it challenging to pay attention when the conversation takes longer than usual. Some cannot even remember the steps in activities they used to do, such as paying bills and cooking a meal. They also get sensitive to the loudness of voices.
How you can help things get better for them
As a caregiver, knowing how to communicate effectively with a senior with Alzheimer’s or dementia will make things get better for them.
- Try to be sensitive to their situation. Help seniors remember instead of correcting them each time they forget to do or say something. If they struggle to find the right words to say, be patient. Make an effort to listen. Give them time to gather their thoughts until they can say what they want.
- Keep them away from distractions, which can overwhelm people with Alzheimer’s. For example, find a quiet corner in a noisy space. If the TV is turned on or music is playing in the background, turn them off.
- Speak kindly, slowly, and with a smile. Use simple words and shorter sentences so it will be easy for them. Give the senior the time to understand your first sentence by pausing before going to the next. Sometimes, you may have to wait longer than usual, depending on how they respond to what you are saying. If you find the need to repeat what you are saying, do it and wait for a minute or two to understand and respond.
- Seniors with dementia or Alzheimer’s may become aggressive depending on the situation. To some, a bath is when they display aggressive behaviour. Therefore, it is essential not to rush, speak harshly or force them to do it. When they become somewhat hostile, they do not want to do it. Therefore, respect the message they are trying to convey. But this does not mean that you will stop trying. After a few minutes or half an hour, try to do the activity again.
- Improve the quality of your relationship with a senior loved one with dementia or Alzheimer’s by asking about events or happy moments that happened in the past. As a result, they will be glad to talk to you about them. They may not be able to remember what happened a few minutes ago but are likely to remember what happened 45 years ago.
The strategies above will teach you how to communicate effectively with a senior with Alzheimer’s or dementia. These can help you build a more fulfilling relationship with your senior loved one. If you need an in-home caregiver to provide dementia care, talk to us now.