Tips and Techniques for Alzheimer’s Communication

With Alzheimer’s Disease, communication may be more challenging which makes it important to learn different techniques to better understand the one you are caring for and so they can understand you.

Even with the best intentions, sometimes the way we communicate can lead to a  negative outcome.  Trying to direct someone with Alzheimer’s to a certain task or redirect their behavior needs to be handled delicately.

Know that each individual and each situation is sensitive in their own way. What may work for some may not work for others, there is no “cookie cut” way to handle any situation.

Despite the differences each situation might have, here are some Tips and Techniques that have been found to be successful in communicating with our loved ones with Alzheimer’s Disease:

Simple Do’s and Dont’s 

Don’t argue with them or try to reason- People with Alzheimer’s lose the ability to follow logic so trying to rationalize with them may lead you nowhere and may cause them to be defensive.

Don’t say “remember”- Many times they may not be able to do so which can cause anger and embarrassment.

Don’t take it personal- More than likely, they are not intending on acting out in a negative manner on purpose.

Don’t take offense – Listen to what is troubling the person and try to understand their reality.

Do speak slowly and calmly- Give short explanations and repeat instructions exactly the same way.

Do be patient, cheerful and reassuring- If they start to get frustrated, show your understanding. Sound reassuring and change the subject to something positive to distract them from their frustration

Do respect the fact that they are an adult- Always treat them with respect and dignity.

Go with the Flow- Sometimes it is okay to go with a delusion as long as it doesn’t cause any harm.

Validate their feelings and their reality- Our first intentions may be to correct them, but that might lead into a negative outcome. Instead go with the flow. Here is an example:

Their Reality-Your mother asks-  “When are we going to mom’s house?”
Real Reality- Your mother is 85 years old and  her mother has been deceased for quite some time now.
Embrace Her Reality- “I’m not sure, what were you thinking of doing at Mom’s house?”
Try to distract her- “I’m not sure mom, but I really need some help with some of these dishes could you dry these off for me”

Redirection involves using your attitude and your words to gently shift the behavior.

Start with a calm, confident approach and stick to a calm, friendly tone. To redirect is to lead and people prefer to follow someone they trust and enjoy, not someone who frightens or shames them.

Here are some questions to ask yourself when trying to redirect someone with Alzheimer’s:

Is he/she bored?
Is he/she upset about something?
Is there something about the room or situation that keeps triggering this?
How can I help and resolve this?

You are not alone, there are others who have found themselves in difficult situations with their loved ones and we at Tender Loving Family Care are here to help you. Contact us if you are in need of support and we can assist you in finding the right help.