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Alzheimer’s Care: Tips for Effective Communication

By Mary-Frances Walsh, 8:00 am on

As a leading provider of senior care in Sonoma County, we know that communicating with a senior experiencing Alzheimer’s can be an exasperating experience. Yet, according to the Nursing Times, “Recent research suggests that simply defining Alzheimer’s in terms of organic brain disease and linking the process with aging may not be as straightforward as was once thought.” This means that even patients with Alzheimer’s can learn to be good communicators through the use of consistent techniques by their families and caregivers.

Standard routines are extremely important and helpful to a senior adult with Alzheimer’s. Such routines allow the patient to have some control of his or her daily environment. Gentle reminders of the routine such as, “It’s time to put on your shoes now” or “What do we need to get dressed?” involve the patient in the decision making, as well as in the specific activities that he or she can participate in. Statements should not be phrased as commands, but as something to do together. Medical professionals also suggest that family caregivers use the same phrases when talking to loved ones with Alzheimer’s; this is the best way for the senior to learn communication responses.

Another tip is to always approach your loved one from the front. Make sure to make eye contact with them and touch them on the hand to show your loved one that you are there. Introduce yourself. “Hello, Carl. It’s your daughter Jennifer.” Once the patient knows you are there, you can explain what you need. Use simple phrases that contain one request at the time. You may need to break things into smaller phrases such as, “Come to the table. Sit down by your plate. Take a piece of fruit.” Instead of “Lunchtime!” Single statements allow your loved one to build up confidence by taking one step at a time.

Finally, don’t underestimate the value of using hand signals to communicate. In a situation where the individual with Alzheimer’s is unable to hear well, such as when company is present or when in public, consider pointing to an object or using hand signals to indicate the need to relocate or have your loved one come to you. Because the brain processes hand signals in a different area than speech, this can be an easier way to communicate with your loved one.

Alzheimer’s patients can improve their abilities to communicate, and how you talk with them goes along way in improving their mental state. Using the above mentioned techniques will bring out the best in your loved one, facilitate communication, and help to ward off feelings of confusion, anxiety, irritability and even depression.

To learn more about quality care for seniors with Alzheimer’s, reach out to Home Care Assistance Sonoma County today. We specialize in Alzheimer’s home care in Sonoma County and have a team of experienced and professional caregivers who are trained in how to care for seniors with memory conditions. Request a free, no-obligation consultation by calling 707-843-4368 and speak with a friendly Care Manager.