Tips for Communicating with a Parent with Alzheimer’s
February 1, 2017
Home Care in Aptos CA
Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia can, ultimately, affect your parent’s ability to communicate. There are tools and tips that help prevent misunderstanding and help your parent retain their confidence despite this progressive disease. The Early StagesThe beginning of this disease is usually signaled by loss of memory. Communication at this time is not typically an issue. Your parent may forget what they said and repeat themselves more often, or they may have trouble finding the appropriate word. At this point, it’s important to remember that it is a disease affecting their brain and not your parent’s normal aging process. Let your parent finish their own sentences, even if it takes some time to find the words. If you find them getting frustrated, offer a one-word solution. Try and be patient and listen to repetitive topics instead of letting them know you’ve heard the same story “one too many times.” This can be difficult but, in the long run, significantly helps your parent remain engaged and happy despite the changes occurring in their brain.
Much of communication comes from that which is unsaid. Your parent will listen to your tone of voice, watch your facial expressions and observe your hand gestures. Any unspoken anger or resentment may be just below the surface. If possible, try to maintain a calm, happy demeanor. Everyone has Eeyore days. When those surface, it’s best to take a backseat to your parent’s care and get help from a friend, family member or outside source. If you haven’t obtained the services of a senior care provider as of yet, now is the time. Having them develop a relationship with your parent in the early stages of this disease promotes security and helps with the many challenges you and yours will face as the disease progresses.As the Disease ProgressesAt a certain stage, they may have trouble recalling names for specific objects and even people. At this point it is important to make sure you maintain eye-to-eye contact when speaking. Limit any distractions such as background noise. It’s best to keep important conversations one-on-one, but don’t keep them out of group discussions to the point they feel left out of the family circle. A feeling of inclusion is vital to those with this disease.
Make sure you have their attention before speaking and use short, simple phrases. Use gestures and promote their use of hand signals when faced with trouble understanding each other. Joining a support group can be very beneficial. Your parent can meet other’s going through the same situation, providing both information and companionship. Using tried-and-true tips to help you and yours communicate can provide continued success in understanding and emotional well-being despite Alzheimer’s affects.