Communicating with a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease isn’t a walk in the park. Since the patient can get confused and can forget easily, relaying a message can be frustrating. If you speak slowly, they may have trouble understanding you. Even if you speak clearly, he may misinterpret your words. There’s also a chance they may not recognize you at all. With certain communication techniques, however, getting through can be made easier.
Avoid Pointing Out Mistakes
An elderly with Alzheimer’s disease tends to say the wrong things. When he mentions something incorrect, just let him be and try to decipher the meaning of his words. Avoid laughing at him and avoid insisting that you know better. Don’t point out his mistakes; doing so will discourage him from speaking to you. Remember, what should matter is that they communicate with you, and not how they communicates with you. For instance, he pronounced a term wrong. In such a case, instead of correcting them, keep the conversation going.
Be ready to give your undivided attention when you talking your loved one. Having Alzheimer’s can make them not want to talk a whole lot. This is why you should interact with him properly. Instead of letting it be all up to you, let it the conversation go the other way around. Listen carefully by focusing on his words and body language. Furthermore, make sure your head is at the level of his, make eye contact, and make them feel that what they are saying interests you. If they notice you paying attention, they can be encouraged to keep speaking their thoughts, and feeling uplifted at the same time.
The Power of Empathy
When talking, practice empathy. Admit to yourself that you’re talking to a loved one with a neurologic disease. However, try not to hint that there’s something wrong with him. Don’t make him feel intimidated or uncomfortable by putting him on the spot. If you have to ask, consider basic questions that would require him to respond with a word or two. Stay away from “why” questions. Since these may be complex, he may attempt to answer you anyway and fail, which can result to erratic behavior.
One at a Time
Avoid being in a hurry when communicating with an elderly with Alzheimer’s disease. So that they won’t be puzzled, try not to talk about multiple issues in a short time. Introduce a new topic only after you’re finished with the one before. In addition, don’t forget to use short sentences and visual representations.
The Appropriate Response to Aggressive Behavior
If your loved one is suffering from more advanced stages of Alzheimer’s, showing signs of aggressive behavior isn’t rare. They may say NO to your suggestions, they may push you away, yell at you, and even throw things at you. Rather than be mad at them, take a deep breath yourself and help them calm down. Do not get drawn into the drama. Be cognizant of the level of danger for both you and the patient. If need be, step back, but keep an eye on the patient.
Identify if there is any immediate cause for their behavior and act as much as possible to alleviate the condition. You could also try to distract them and shift their attention to something else. If it feels right, you could even play them their favorite relaxation music.
If the situation becomes a little more serious, do not hesitate to call for backup help. Sometimes, the panic button of a home medical alert system is pressed by family members or caregivers needing additional help to assist an Alzheimer’s patient. This include situations where the caregiver or the child is overwhelmed caring for the Alzheimer’s on their own.