When I was caring for my mom, her doctor suggested to start communicating and meeting mom at her level. Initially you think you are meeting your loved one where they are at, but as time goes on you start to realize that giving decisions, words used, tone, how fast you speak, etc. all play into how you communicate with the person who has Alzheimer’s. Communication is how we relate to one another, how we express our needs, desires and perceptions, tone of voice, facial expressions and body language.
As the disease progresses the communication of the person with Alzheimer’s will face challenges in expressing thoughts and feelings. The person will be unable to understand what is being communicated as well as lose their ability for verbal expression. These challenges can lead to frustration and anticipating these changes and as mentioned learning how to communicate more effectively, i.e. meeting them at their level will allow you to make adjustments and you as the caregiver, family member and/or friend has to learn a great deal of patience.
Here are some problems that you can anticipate to see at different levels:
- Difficulty finding the right words
- Using familiar words repeatedly
- Describing familiar objects rather than calling them by name
- Easily losing train of thought
- Difficulty organizing words logically
- Reverting to speaking a native language
- Speaking less often
- Relying on gestures more than speaking
And the best ways for you to communicate is to:
- Watch your words
- Call the person by name
- Use short, simple sentences
- Speak slowly and distinctly
- Patiently wait for a response
- Turn questions into answers
- Avoid vague answers
These and other great tips can be found on the Alzheimer’s Association’s site as well as how they break down the different stages, mainly three, Early, Middle and Late. To learn more about the stages click on this link, to learn more about communication tips, signs and how-to’s, click on this link.