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6 Tips for Effective Communication with Older Adults with Alzheimer’s

It can be challenging to communicate with seniors who have Alzheimer’s. They may not be able to follow conversational logic or react appropriately to social cues. However, there are several effective ways to navigate conversations with an aging loved one who is living with Alzheimer’s. 

1. Don’t Argue

Alzheimer’s inhibits the ability to process and remember sequential information, which can affect the ability to perform multistep tasks like cooking or getting dressed. It also impacts the ability to understand the logic of an argument. Even if your loved one is wrong, debating won’t help, and it will simply leave him or her confused and unhappy. Being reassuring and patient is the ideal way to defuse tense situations. 

The months and years following an Alzheimer’s diagnosis can be challenging for both seniors and their families. However, these challenges can be made less stressful with the help of caregivers trained in professional Alzheimer’s care. Columbus, Ohio, Home Care Assistance is here to help your loved one enjoy the golden years while simultaneously managing the symptoms of Alzheimer’s.

2. Don’t Rush

Finding the right words can be challenging for a senior with Alzheimer’s. When your loved one has something to say, be attentive and allow him or her to find the right words. Looking your loved one in the eye may keep him or her calm and focused. If your loved one can’t finish the sentence, repeating the words back to him or her in calm, soothing tones might trigger the rest of the thought. If this approach frustrates your loved one, simply having a conversation after making assumptions about his or her intent may lead to a pleasant exchange.

You can also consider professional home care if you need assistance caring for your elderly loved one. Families who need help caring for a senior loved one can turn to Home Care Assistance, a leading provider of Columbus, Ohio, home care. Services available in our customizable care plans include meal prep, mental and social stimulation, assistance with personal hygiene tasks, and much more.

3. Be Clear

Brevity is key when speaking with seniors with Alzheimer’s. When you want to be understood, speak in short, easy-to-parse sentences. Before moving on to another thought, make sure your loved one has understood the first thought. If you provide too much information at once, your loved one might not be able to process it and may become agitated. 

4. Follow Your Loved One’s Lead

If your loved one is feeling talkative, follow his or her lead. Your loved one may end up reminiscing about the past, which could be a positive experience. Even if what your loved one says isn’t accurate, try to reminisce together, as it may trigger memories or associations. For example, if your loved one is remembering the cabin where he or she vacationed as a child, indulge the trip down memory lane. 

5. Approach from the Front

Some seniors with Alzheimer’s are easily startled. To enhance your loved one’s sense of comfort, approach him or her carefully from the front so he or she won’t be startled by peripheral movements, then establish and maintain eye contact, as this suggests interest and care. A gentle touch on the hand or arm may also be welcome. If your loved one is prone to anxiety, you may want to wait for him or her to initiate contact.

6. Ask Simple Yes or No Questions

Complex questions can overwhelm seniors with Alzheimer’s. Always phrase questions so they are easy to answer. Yes or no questions are ideal. For example, don’t ask, “Do you want to wear the red shirt or the blue shirt?” This question forces your loved one to parse the question, decide between the two objects, and verbalize the decision. It’s easier to ask, “Do you want to wear the red shirt?” This question is easier to parse and only requires a one-word answer. In addition, skip questions if your loved one becomes agitated. It doesn’t matter what he or she had for breakfast, so instead of asking, “What did you have for breakfast?” when you know he or she had eggs, perhaps say, “I really love eggs, don’t you?” If your loved one wants to say no even though he or she enjoys eggs, that’s fine. Go with the flow.

Professional caregivers can help seniors with Alzheimer’s stay comfortable at home by communicating effectively and assisting with daily tasks. For many seniors in Columbus, Ohio, live-in care is an essential component of aging in place safely and comfortably. However, it’s important for them to have caregivers they can trust and rely on. At Home Care Assistance, we extensively screen all of our live-in and 24-hour caregivers and only hire those who have experience in the senior home care industry. Our strict requirements ensure seniors can remain in the comfort of home with a reduced risk of injury or serious illness. To create a comprehensive care plan for your aging loved one, call us at (614) 481-8888 today.