Losing the ability to communicate with your loved one can be one of the hardest losses for caregivers of loved ones with Alzheimer’s Disease. You may miss your long conversations sitting on the back porch or talking about that amazing baseball game you attended together when you were just a teen.
Communicating is often how we share memories and keep them alive so losing that ability while the person you love is still here can be hard.
Alzheimer’s patients are able to communicate, but it just may be in a way that you aren’t accustomed to.
One thing caregivers need to learn is how they communicate with their loved ones will need to adapt as the disease progresses. Having an Alzheimer’s care provider who comes to your home regularly can help.
Since Alzheimer’s care providers are trained in helping families care for their loved ones, they can share their knowledge with you on how to best communicate. You can help your Alzheimer’s care provider as well by letting them know about things your loved one used to love to talk about as well.
When striving to communicate with your loved one, whether it’s to give directions on a task or share a special moment, here are five tips to help your conversation be successful.
Look the Person in the Face
When talking to a loved one, don’t stand behind them and talk about what is around you. If you are pushing them in a wheelchair, stop the wheelchair, squat down, and attempt to get their eye contact before you begin to speak. This will help them focus on what you are saying.
Make it Simple
Using simple language will best communicate your desires to your loved one. Avoid too many descriptive words and keep your sentences short. If you are pointing out the flowers that have begun to bloom in the garden, also use hand gestures to help guide your loved one’s attention to the new blooms.
You may have to repeat something several times to get your loved one’s attention or to have them understand what you are suggesting. If you are trying to guide your loved one to brush their teeth, keep repeating “We are now going to brush your teeth,” until they understand. You can also supplement your words with actions such as placing the toothbrush in their hand.
No matter how frustrated you get, keep your voice calm and level. Shouting never helps.
Look for other clues. Even if your loved one isn’t speaking, look for facial or physical cues that will convey how they are feeling about a situation, and use those cues to help you know your next step in the conversation.
There are times it’ll be overwhelming. It can be helpful to have someone else step in, like an Alzheimer’s care provider, when you feel like you’ve hit a roadblock. Never be afraid to ask for help.
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