Alzheimer’s: Tips for More Effective Communication


Alzheimer’s Disease gradually impairs the person’s ability to communicate.

People with dementia have more difficulty expressing thoughts and emotions, as well as more trouble understanding others. Here are some tips to help in communication and understanding:

• Learn to create a ‘kind voice’ – speak slower and lower, smiling.

• To orient the person and get his or her attention:

> Call the person by name.

> Approach the person from the front so there are no surprises.

> Tell the person who you are, even if you are the spouse or child.

• Ask one question at a time.

• Use short, simple words and sentences.

• Avoid using logic and reason.

• Avoid quizzing.

• Avoid asking, “Do you remember when…?”

• Avoid criticizing, correcting and arguing.

• Let the person know you are listening and trying to understand what is being said.

> Keep good eye contact.

> Show the person that you care about what is being said.

• Patiently wait for a response as extra time may be required to process your request.

• Repeat information and questions. If the person doesn’t respond, wait a moment. Then ask again.

• Focus on the feelings, not the facts.

> Sometimes the emotions being expressed are more important than what is being said.

• Let the person think about and describe whatever he or she wants.

> If the person uses the wrong word or cannot find a word, try guessing the right one.

> If you don’t understand what is being said, ask the person to point or gesture.

Tip resources from Alzheimer’s Association:

Jennifer Benjamin
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