5 Tips for Communicating with Someone with Alzheimer’s

Did you know that 5.5 million Americans are currently living with Alzheimer’s disease? Communicating with someone diagnosed with Alzheimer’s can be challenging and often create frustration.

However, communication is possible if you remain patient, avoid distractions, avoid pointing out mistakes, utilize nonverbal communication, and keep it simple.

Read about these tips in more detail below.

5 Tips to Communicate Effectively

Be Patient

When communicating with someone with Alzheimer’s, make sure to prepare yourself before entering into a conversation.

You need to remain patient and know that it may become challenging. Do not raise your voice, show stress, or demonstrate frustration. Allow your loved one to take their time. Remember to listen and do not interrupt.

Avoid Distractions

Take away the distractions by having the conversation away from competing sights and sounds.

You can do this by using a quiet room in the house (like a den or bedroom) so the attention is focused on you and not the T.V., the cars driving by, or other background noise. Doing so will at least create a clear pathway for talking.

Avoid Pointing Out Mistakes

You can easily get off-topic or lose someone’s attention if you point out a mistake or correct something he or she said.

When you avoid pointing out mistakes arguing with your loved one it's easier to reduce arguing.

Utilize Nonverbal Communication

Communication uses both verbal and nonverbal messaging, so try to use visual and nonverbal cues (i.e. hand gestures, facial expressions, etc.) to get your message across.

Keep the Conversation Simple

Depending on where the disease is in its progression, you may need to keep your sentences short and to the point. Eventually, as it progresses, you may need to keep your questions to yes or no answers.

In addition, breakdown larger concepts into smaller, easier-to-understand talking points. For example, if you need to discuss a new medication – consider all of the items you need to communicate: the name of the medication, its purpose, why the change is happening, when it needs to be taken, how often, etc.

It's best to break down each of the points you need to share and take your time communicating it to your loved one.

Remember, also try your best not to take any negative comments shared in response to the change personally. By remaining patient and showing respect to your loved one you can set a positive tone for the conversation.