For adult children caring for an aging parent who lives with Alzheimer’s disease, one common challenge is understanding how to best communicate with them. Their disease often makes it difficult to have a conversation, especially if their verbal skills are impaired.
Here are a Few Pointers That Should Help
How to Approach
Approach your loved one from the front and make eye contact with them as you do. Call them by name. Avoid coming up behind them as Alzheimer’s disease often compromises their peripheral vision.
Tone of Voice
Watch how loud your voice is and the tone it conveys. If they feel like you are angry and shouting, they may withdraw or strike out at you. Use a calm, soothing voice and display a warm, loving manner.
Your body language is important in communicating with them. Gently hold their hand. If you need them to accompany you to another room, use a soft touch to guide them there.
It is important to try to continue 2-way conversations with someone living with Alzheimer’s disease even if their verbal abilities are decreasing. This helps them feel more successful and keeps them independent longer.
When to Seek Respite
Being the caregiver for someone with Alzheimer’s disease is exhausting and often frustrating. If you feel yourself becoming short-tempered with your loved one, it might be time to seek help from other family members or a respite care provider.
It’s Not Personal
Try not to take perceived bad behaviors personally. Remind yourself that this is the disease taking its toll on your loved one and they are powerless to stop it.
Don’t argue with your loved one or try to re-orient them to present day. Those living with Alzheimer’s disease lose their short-term memory first. Reminding them over and over that a loved one they are “waiting on for dinner” has passed away or that their favorite pet is no longer around serves no purpose. Instead, try to distract them with household tasks they can easily perform such as folding towels.