With last month (June) being Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month, we at Experia USA strongly believe the productive conversations of the campaign should continue into the rest of the year and beyond. In this post, we’ll provide advice on talking to someone with Alzheimer’s and communicating with dementia patients.
Effective Communication When Caring for Someone with Alzheimer’s
Effective communication, both verbal and non-verbal, is incredibly important for people with Alzheimer’s. Failure to communicate well can cause serious anxiety, depression, frustration, and even anger. Therefore, it is imperative that you are able to engage with them appropriately to help keep them at ease and stimulated through communication.
The most common symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease include:
- Memory loss: Forgetting conversations, the names of places and objects, losing household items
- Repetition: Often people with Alzheimer’s will ask the same questions repeatedly
- Indecision: More difficult to make decisions and struggle with judgement
- Frustration: Because of the above symptoms, this can cause irritation and anxiety.
There are plenty of ways to navigate these difficult situations. In terms of verbal communication with an Alzheimer’s patient, you should ensure that you take care with every aspect of the interaction (including before and after talking) as well as the main speaking part.
Before speaking, be sure that you have the person’s full attention and are making eye contact. You should sit relatively close to them - although not too close to be threatening their personal space - and make sure that your full face can be seen in full light.
You should speak clearly and a bit slower than you normally would, pausing between sentences to allow the other person to register and understand what you have just said. This is really important; it might seem a bit strange to you, but it is a crucial part of communicating with someone with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.
Try to avoid asking too many questions. While you might think that it can encourage the memory of an Alzheimer’s patient, what can actually happen is that they become aware of their diminishing memory. This can cause them to be upset and trigger further anxiety and depression.
Hearing Impairments, Alzheimer’s, and Sensory Solutions
As can often be the case with later-stage Alzheimer’s patients, there will be other conditions and impairments that you will have to contend with as well. In older Alzheimer’s and dementia patients, hearing impairments are among the most common. Naturally, this causes further problems when it comes to verbal communication: not only is it difficult for the person to understand what you are saying because of their Alzheimer’s, but they struggle to hear you in the first place before that understanding process can even begin.
‘…showed positive effects on both the person with dementia and his/her caregiver. The persons with dementia displayed an interest in the equipment, they were more relaxed, and their cognitive state seemed to improve. The caregivers reported experiencing a more relaxed atmosphere, feeling more connected to their loved ones, and the interpersonal relationships improved.’
Multisensory equipment has shown to improve cognition and helps relax a person with Alzheimer’s. With sensory stimulation, dementia patients can regain control over aspects of their life. With this newfound confidence and assurance, people with Alzheimer’s and dementia can engage with you more strongly.
Contact us today with any questions you may have - we’re happy to help.