How To Communicate With Someone Who Has Alzheimer’s Disease
I worked as an LPN on a Alzheimer’s floor for 3 years. Now my sister has Alzheimer’s Disease and I am able to share ways for the care giver to communicate without getting flustered and mad.
Here are some things I learned to do:
1. Speak simple words as thoughts are not connecting and they cannot understand because of memory lapses in the brain.
2. Be brief and do not make long explanations of why or how of things are to be done. It is too overwhelming and they just do not get it.
3. Point to things cues them on what to do. Just taking a pill can be hard as you cue every movement. Point to the pill in their hand, point to their mouth, point to glass, motion to take a drink, point to throat and say swallow. Otherwise they will just stare at you blankly as they have no clue what to do.
4. Show and demonstrate what you want them to do like brushing teeth or combing hair then hand object to them.
5. Help with reality orientation letting them know where they live, what time it is, month, day, and year. They get very disorientated and need to be reminded in a positive way. You may need to repeat several times and if they disagree do not argue.
6. Their confusion, frustration, tears, laughter lets you know where they are at that very moment. They need affirmation, redirection, hugs, and lots of love during these outburst that come unexpectedly.
7. Mood and personality changes come and go quickly. Communicate love by a pat on the back, hug, or handshake to distracts them. They will forget what just happened because their memory attention span of present things are forgotten in 10 minutes.
8. They remember past experiences more than what you just told them 10 minutes ago. So talk about their memories and comment briefly to reminisce their good old days.
9. Fear may be communicated by your actions or reactions. I worked on an Alzheimer’s unit in a nursing home and 2 fears were noted. One fear was a shiny waxed floor was ice and they were afraid to walk on it. Another fear was night lights looked like fire to them and they started screaming fire.
10. Bring soft stuffed animals for them to pet. They love the soft fur and it has a calming effect communicating safety to them.
11. Music communicates the time of day. Morning time music of birds singing playing reminds them it’s time to get up. Evening time soft calming music is played making them sleepy.
12. Family members bring their favorite blankets, pictures, books etc. communicates memories of home. Otherwise they wander into other resident’s rooms frantically looking through drawers for familiar things had at home.
13. Attach a name tag with name, address, and phone number to their clothes. They may go for a walk and get lost.
14. Listen and nod as they speak to you. A lady in a nursing home could not speak English but when she saw me coming she came running to me jabbering away like crazy.I had no clue what she was saying so I just smiled, nodded and said a few words like, wow or isn’t that interesting! She always wanted a big hug from me. I must have reminded her of a family member.
15. Communicate by giving them a job to do. If a person was a waitress give her dishes to set the table, cloth to wipe the table and let her wash the dishes. Another lady we gave a basket of clothes to fold which she did over and over again.
16. When losing their personal belongings you or family member may be blamed. Don’t take things personally and realize it’s part of their disease. Just help them look for things they lost. They will forget about it a few minutes later and so must you.
17. Listening to their past experiences while you walk makes them feel special that you really care. Walking also helps remove stress and distracts from what they were upset about.
These are a few ways of communicating with an Alzheimer family member. I hope you gained some helpful information for newly caregivers. Speak softly, love and give lots of hugs and praise for a good job done.