Alzheimer’s disease is a form of dementia that affects thinking, behavior, and memory. It can be difficult to talk to a person who’s lost his or her memory, especially if it’s someone you love and care deeply about.
There are many challenges and changes that come with Alzheimer’s, but if you are aware of them, you’ll be able to match your conversation to speak to an Alzheimer’s patient in a way they will be receptive to. Here are some tips on how to have conversations with Alzheimer’s patients.
Speak at Their Level
During the early stages of Alzheimer’s, the patient will still be capable of having meaningful conversations. However, they may have difficulty finding the right words to express themselves and might feel overwhelmed if they are excessively stimulated. Due to memory impairment, they may repeat stories they’ve forgotten they’ve already told. However, it is important to be patient and listen with an understanding mind, since their brain is not functioning as well as it once did.
When the disease progresses, communication can become more difficult. You might have to slow down your speech and make deliberate eye contact while speaking so a person with Alzheimer’s can understand what you are saying. Use short, simple questions and wait for the patient to process and respond before continuing. Having a kind and gentle tone will help make things work better.
Ask Open-Ended Questions
Ask broad, open-ended questions, such as “Tell me about your son”. Asking for specific details, such as the son’s age, can frustrate Alzheimer’s patients when they are unable to remember the answer. Alzheimer’s patients will prefer open-ended questions so they can talk about the things that matter to them. For example, you can ask about their hobbies, favorite TV shows, their friends, and their family.
Most Alzheimer’s patients still retain memories of the past but have difficulty remembering events that happened earlier in the day. Conversations that involve their long-term memory will bring them more joy as they can reminisce in old memories, instead of struggling to recall something they don’t remember.
Ask Yes or No Questions
It can be overwhelming for an Alzheimer’s patient when you ask questions such as “What do you want to do today?”. Alzheimer’s patients may struggle to recall potential options and make a decision. You can simplify things for them by asking specific questions such as “Would you like to take a walk?”, which makes it easier for them to respond.
Don’t Test Their Memory
If you ask questions such as “Do you remember me?”, it may agitate an Alzheimer’s patient as they feel like they’re being tested. If they are unable to recall, your question might result in negative emotions, such as anxiety, confusion, and fear. Use questions to find out what Alzheimer’s patients want and need to connect with them instead of gauging their memory.
Memory Care at Rittenhouse Village At Michigan City
Rittenhouse Village At Michigan City has a SHINE® Memory Care program dedicated to residents who struggle with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. Our healthcare professionals and nurses are trained to care for residents with memory struggles by providing meaningful activities, compassion, and understanding. Contact us to find out more about our senior living community!