When a loved one has Alzheimer’s disease, their communication skills deteriorate. This neurocognitive disorder causes language unlearning. Strategies must therefore be found to circumvent this pitfall.
Communicating well with a loved one with Alzheimer’s: patience and empathy
It is important to keep in mind that your loved one has lost some of their language and cognitive faculties. He or she is not “on purpose” not to understand, hear or recognize you. You, on the other hand, may have difficulty understanding what he or she is trying to communicate. This leads to misunderstandings, frustration on both sides, which makes communication even more difficult. It is therefore essential to exercise patience, improve listening skills and develop new communication strategies.
Communicate with a loved one suffering from Alzheimer’s with simple tips
To better communicate with your loved one with Alzheimer’s disease, here are some practical tips:
- Offer interpretations, try to understand what your loved one is saying based on the context.
- Look your loved one in the eye while you talk to them, call them by their first name. If he accepts it, hold his hand when you chat.
- Pay attention to your nonverbal communication cues. If you speak too quickly, too loudly, frowning, your loved one may focus on your annoyance, without retaining the substance of your remarks. Be calm, relaxed, speak slowly.
- Reassure your loved one when he has trouble expressing himself. Tell him everything is fine and encourage him.
- Continue to respect your loved one, don’t talk to him like a baby who doesn’t understand everything, don’t talk about him to a third person as if he weren’t in the same room as him.
- During your exchanges, limit the sources of distraction. Turn off the television or radio.
- In more advanced stages of the disease, use short sentences, with which your loved one can answer yes or no, and show the objects you are referring to – for example, show them the toilet instead of asking them to he needs to go.
- Take care of yourself, give yourself breaks during which you are not taking care of your loved one, to breathe, to rest. As the companion of a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease, you are entitled to respite.
Ma Boussole Aidants, a free digital platform, offers you a map of caregiver relay services at home or outside, closest to you. You will also be able to find testimonials from caregivers in the same situation as you, advice from expert neurologists, and a breakdown of financial aid for you and your loved one.