Communicating with someone with Alzheimer’s disease who has language difficulties, requires lots of patience, understanding, skill and creativity. One of the keys in communicating effectively is eliminating background noise such as TV or radio or other distractions. Sometimes this is not possible, but it might be possible to move to a less distracting area before you start talking. It is always a good start to get the person’s attention by using eye contact, therefore having a conversation when you are in another room will not get favorable results.
Here are a few other points to consider:
- speak slowly and clearly
- pay attention to see if they understood you before going on
- repeat important information, but keep it simple
- show and talk, give a visual clue
- allow time for them to respond
Be aware of your body language as well as tone of voice and facial expressions. It is easier on everyone when you can join the Alzheimer patient in their reality rather than argue with them. The story of Rose is a good example. Rose was a very sweet lady but at dinner time she often became upset because she thought she had to sing later and she couldn’t remember the music. The staff often told her she didn’t have to sing, but Rose still couldn’t let it go until one day they told her they already booked someone else to perform. That creative response calmed Rose down. We learned later that Rose was an accomplished soloist in her day and often performed for the troops during the war.
The quality of life for people with Alzheimer’s disease depends largely on the interactions with others who care for them. Understanding how to deal with communication issues helps to lessen the frustration for everyone.