Alzheimer’s Disease: Communication Tips and Local Resources

September is World Alzheimer’s Month and one of the biggest challenges of the disease for those afflicted and for those that provide care is communication.  Alzheimer’s affects communication by causing the person to lose vocabulary, to forget the appropriate names of things and/or people, to lose the ability to identify and articulate their own feelings or concerns, to have difficulty distinguishing reality from imaginary, and to experience mood swings and personality changes.

Below are communication tips for family members helping someone afflicted with Alzheimer’s.

  • Learn to create a kind voice by speaking softly and slowly
  • SMILE often
  • Call the person by name
  • Approach the person from the front so that there are no surprises
  • Ask one question at a time
  • Use short, simple words and sentences
  • Avoid using logic and reasoning – for example, “Mom, you need to go to the dentist to keep your teeth and gums healthy.” Instead, skip the logic and reasoning, “Mom, we are going to the dentist.”
  • Avoid quizzing – for example, “Dad, what’s my name?” or “Mom, what did you have for breakfast this morning?”
  • Avoid criticizing, arguing, and correcting
  • Focus on the feelings rather than the words. Sometimes the feelings being expressed are more relevant than the words.

Sometimes just reminding the person that you love her and are here to help is enough to quell any anxiety or agitation.

Below are a few local resources for Alzheimer’s.