Communicating with your loved ones who are suffering from memory problems may be difficult. However, you can deploy some suitable strategies to help bridge the communication gap and foster a more fulfilling relationship between you and your loved ones. If you are one of the caregivers who are facing such communication problems, you are not alone. As many as four million citizens in the United States alone suffer from Alzheimer’s disease; and as our population ages, that number is only expected to increase further. You can imagine the number of caregivers like you out there! However, do not despair, we share with you three strategies that caregivers and family members can use to become better communicators with patients with memory problems.
Do not Counter Aggressive Behavior
Memory loss associated with dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, and aging do not happen overnight. This symptom sneaks up slowly and little-by-little each day, until family members realize that they are no longer able to communicate with their loved ones that they’ve known for many years.
Individuals with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease may become agitated or aggressive in response to their own communication difficulties or with their surrounding environments. For instance, aggression is oftentimes displayed during bath time. Caregivers and family members play an integral role when dealing with such individuals. Speaking harshly, forcing, or rushing them may lead to an aggressive response. When an individual with memory loss displays aggression, it is a form of communication. It may be the only method for them to tell you that they do not want a bath. The appropriate response would then be to stop.
Do not Talk Down to Them
Family members and caregivers should never talk down to individuals with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, and this includes baby talk, which does not work neurologically. The fact that your loved ones are having problems with communicating their needs does not mean that talking down to them like a child will benefit anyone. The communication style used should still be respectful to an older adult.
Shorten your Phrases
If your loved one is having difficulty understanding you, it may be because your message is too complex. Instead, one should use simple sentences, basic words, and repeat as necessary. Keep your questions answerable and brief. Using “yes” or “no” questions would work better than open-ended or multiple choice questions. If you are giving instructions, limit them to one at a time. Visual cues can also help to enhance clarity if they are still finding it difficult to understand.
Patience is also an important aspect of communicating with an individual with memory issues. Offer a prompt if they are struggling to find a specific word, but make sure you are also open to listening to them.
Let Rittenhouse Village At Valparaiso Care for Your Loved Ones
Are you having difficulties caring for your loved ones with memory problems? Our SHINE® Memory Care program uses scientific data to promote a personalized approach to care for our residents, thereby allowing them to have a better quality of life. We have a team of highly-skilled care professionals who will provide empathetic, inclusive care for your loved ones.