It’s very painful to watch a loved one deteriorate after being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Relatives are the foundation of your life and when that foundation crumbles, it becomes undermining. As the disease progresses, the patient will start forgetting small things and eventually the mental capacity is severely impaired. Gradually, the loved one loses their sense of individuality and communication is severely compromised.
You might be tempted to refer to your loved one as an ‘empty shell’ at this point but that’s far from the truth. Sometimes it might be hard to communicate at all while other days, the person might be open about it. However, you need to understand how to communicate with your relative in order to connect. Thanks to the communication tips outlined below, you will find a way to connect with your loved one.
Do’s And Don’ts Of Communicating With A Person Diagnosed With Alzheimer’s
• Don’t be frustrated when your loved one can’t communicate with you. Rather, you should empathize with the person and remember he/she has no control over their condition. Make him/her feel safe instead of stressed to make communication easier. If you feel like you’re getting frustrated, take a little break and get back to it later.
• Keep the communication very clear, simple and short. Don’t give him/her lots of directions or ask lots of questions at once. Don’t complicate the conversation to make it easier for the patient to understand you.
• If he/she has forgotten who you are, don’t feel bad about repeating your name over and over again. Eventually, they will learn to connect with you and communication will be more effortless.
• If you’re calling your loved one, always refer to him/her by the name. For instance, if it’s your grandmother, instead of saying grandma or any other cute pet name, always use her name. It’s good to note that the memory of an Alzheimer’s patient might regress to a point where they can only remember their name.
• Always speak slowly when communicating with your loved one. As the mental capacity diminishes, it might take longer to process anything that has been said. Therefore, if you rush or fumble through your words, he/she will definitely not understand what you’re saying.
• Try close-ended questions to make communication easier. For instance, rather than asking questions that require long answers, you should opt for yes/ or no questions.
• If you say something the first time and the patient doesn’t understand it, you can repeat it using simpler words. The second time round, you should use fewer words to make sure that your relative understands.
• If the person will be upset by the truth, you should consider telling him/her ambiguous answers. For instance, if your loved asks for someone who passed away, you can simply say that the person isn’t there at that moment rather than saying when and how exactly he/she passed away.
• Don’t be afraid to repeat yourself as much as possible. Most patients suffering from Alzheimer’s have a short memory span. Therefore, they might forget things you just said a few minutes ago. So, you shouldn’t get frustrated when you have to repeat the same thing over and over again. It’s simply part of the communication process.
• There are lots of techniques you can use to always keep the patient’s attention focused to your communication. For example, make direct eye contact, smile as much as possible, use body language or gestures if possible.
• Don’t ever force the person to remember something. Therefore, you should avoid sentences like, do you remember? How could you forget that? Such things will only anger the patient making it harder to communicate with them.
• Yes, your loved one has a problem with their memory so don’t keep repeating it to them. If they have forgotten something you just told them, don’t get frustrated by saying you just told them a few seconds ago.
• Don’t talk with other people in the room without involving the patient in the conversation. Always address them directly and make them part of the conversation regardless of what you’re talking about.
• Don’t ever use slang or unfamiliar words that the patient will not understand. Remember, the goal is to make communication easier and adding difficult vocabulary to your conversation will only make everything more difficult.
• Don’t patronize the patient or infantilize him/her by using baby talk. If you talk down to your loved one, he/she will feel angry about it and eventually stop all communication. Therefore, talk to them like a normal person, ignore their condition and treat them like you would if they didn’t have the disease.
• Don’t be sarcastic or ironic regardless of whether you’re just trying to be humorous. This might hurt the patient or make him/her confused.
Hopefully, with these amazing tips communication with your loved one suffering from Alzheimer’s will be simple from now henceforth!