Alzheimer’s disease brings many challenges for patients and their loved ones. Loss of independence, memory loss, and physiological changes can all be sources of great stress. Among the challenges faced by people living with Alzheimer’s disease, communication difficulties can be among the most frustrating to navigate. When your formerly articulate loved one suddenly has trouble expressing and understanding even the simplest information, it can be hard to know how to proceed. However, there are things that you can do to facilitate communication and make your life, and the life of your loved one, easier.
People with Alzheimer’s often forget familiar words and phrases. They may struggle to express themselves and have difficulty completing sentences. They may also have trouble understanding what is being said to them. This is often extremely frustrating and confusing for Alzheimer’s patients, as they try to communicate their thoughts and feelings in the face of deteriorating language capacities. As verbal abilities decline, people with Alzheimer’s may repeat themselves, yell, babble, or use foul language. It’s important to remain calm in the face of disturbing behaviors, and recognize that communication difficulties are just as frustrating for your loved one as they are for you.
Although it presents many challenges, there are things you can do to make communicating with your loved one easier. When you approach your loved one, make sure to stay engaged and present: maintain eye contact, focus on their face, and avoid multitasking. Keep your hands away from your face to reduce visual distractions and allow them to read your facial expression, and eliminate other distractions in the environment such as background music and the television. It’s important to remember that even though their ability to understand spoken language may have declined dramatically, people with Alzheimer’s can still understand your body language, facial expression, and tone of voice. Stay upbeat, positive and calm. Try to use body language that conveys attention and respect. Avoid infantilizing or talking down to your loved one. If they don’t understand something that you’re saying, try rephrasing it, rather than simply repeating yourself. Keep information simple and use a clear, even tone of voice. By staying calm and keeping your own frustration in check, you’ll be encouraging your loved one to feel safe and secure, and will be helping them to communicate to the best of their ability.
Edison Home Health Care is happy to advise and assist you or any loved one who seek appropriate care of Alzheimer’s disease. Give us a call at 888-311-1142, or fill out a contact form and we will respond shortly.