Tips for Communicating with an Elderly Loved One When They Have Alzheimer's Disease

You may have suspected that your loved one has Alzheimer’s disease before you received an official diagnosis. Maybe they were forgetting familiar people and places or were having trouble finding the right words during conversation. Now that you have confirmation of their condition, you may have to alter the way you communicate with your loved one. Alzheimer’s disease slowly takes away a person’s ability to communicate with others, but the following tips can help you better understand your loved one as they contend with this condition.

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Give Your Full Concentration
Consider how frustrating it can be to talk to someone who is not listening to you. For someone with Alzheimer’s disease, it can be substantially more exasperating. If your loved one is already struggling to remember events and find the right words when speaking to you, your lack of focus can make conversation extremely challenging for them. If you are on the phone or watching television when your loved one wants to talk, end the call or turn off the TV so you can give your loved one your full attention.

Let Mistakes Slide
Since Alzheimer’s disease makes it more difficult to find the right words, your loved one might use the wrong term or say a sentence out of order. If you can decipher what your loved one is saying, do not try to correct them, as it could bring on embarrassment or frustration. If you truly cannot understand what your loved one is communicating, ask your loved one to repeat themselves or offer suggestions as to what they are trying to say. 

Suggest Non-Verbal Gestures
When asking what your loved one wants for dinner, have them go to the refrigerator and point out the foods they would like to eat if they cannot verbally answer your question. You can have them do the same when picking out an outfit for the day. If non-verbal instruction is possible, use it to your advantage when communicating with a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease.

Avalon Residential Care Homes offers Alzheimer’s support for families in Dallas and Fort Worth. If you need assistance with the care of your loved one, we can help. For more information on our Alzheimer's assisted living facility, call (214) 752-7050.