Alzheimer’s disease is a growing epidemic in the U.S. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, 5.5 million Americans are currently living with this disease. If your loved one has just been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, you likely feel overwhelmed and unsure of how to talk to him or her.
It can certainly be challenging to speak to someone with Alzheimer’s, but it can be done. Here are seven tips for communicating with an Alzheimer’s patient.
1. Keep Your Sentences Short and Sweet
A person with Alzheimer’s may likely have trouble processing information, so it is important to keep your sentences as short as possible. If you use long sentences with too many details, your family member may get overwhelmed and have trouble responding.
When you want to ask your loved one something, try to use questions that require a yes or no answer. For example, if you want to find out what your family member wants to do, you can ask, “Do you want to go to the park or movies today?”
2. Avoid Arguing
It is never a good idea to argue with an Alzheimer’s patient, even if what he or she says makes no sense. If your family member really believes something is true, there is no fact in trying to argue against it. In fact, it can make him or her feel frustrated and angry. Instead, try to carefully listen to what your loved one says and find meaning in his or her words.
3. Do Not Interrupt
There may come a time when you are tempted to interrupt your family member in the middle of a sentence because they are taking a while to finish and you may become impatient. However, this can make your family member feel upset and inadequate. It is important to be patient with someone with Alzheimer’s and give him or her enough time to speak.
4. Get Rid of Distractions
It is already difficult enough for an Alzheimer’s patient to focus. If there are distractions in the background, it will be even tougher for you to communicate with your family member. That is why it is best to turn off the television and other distractions before you speak to your loved one.
5. Use Visual Cues
If your loved one does not seem to understand what you are trying to say, it may be helpful to use visual cues. For example, you could put your family member’s toothbrush and toothpaste where he or she will see it upon waking up. This way, you will not have to keep reminding your loved one to brush his or her teeth in the morning.
6. Don’t Exclude Them from Conversations
Just because a person with Alzheimer’s has trouble communicating at times, does not mean you should exclude him or her from your conversations with others. If you talk about your family member like he or she is not there, it may hurt their feelings.
7. Speak Directly to Them
When you are communicating with someone with Alzheimer’s, it is essential to stand directly in front of him or her and make eye contact. If you try to speak to your family member when the two of you are in separate rooms, your family member might not realize you are speaking to him or her.
Communicating with a family member with Alzheimer’s disease can come with obstacles, but it is possible to overcome them. If you are patient and show respect toward your loved one, things will go a lot smoother. If you need assistance looking after your family member, you may want to contact Caring Inc.