Speaking of Alzheimer's. Senior person holding a photo of a younger portrait.

Have you ever tried to communicate with someone with Alzheimer’s or Dementia? Did you end up feeling awkward and frustrated? Communicating with a loved one who has memory loss can be difficult, but with the right strategies, we can foster a more fulfilling relationship with a loved one.

Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia diminish a person’s ability to communicate. Everyone’s situation is unique, and changes in communication may not be pronounced during the early stages. Slowly, little-by-little, it sneaks up, until one day family members realize their loved one can no longer communicate in the same way they’ve known for years.

How to help make communication easier:

According to the National Institute on Aging (NIH), the first step is to understand that the disease causes changes in communication. The second step is to try a few of these tips that may help make communication easier. Such as:

• Call the person by name

• Make eye contact

• Be aware of tone of voice, how you look at the person, and your body language

• Encourage a two-way conversation for as long as possible

• Use other methods besides speaking, such as a gentle touch

Learn to speak effectively with a person who has Alzheimer’s:

• Offer simple step-by-step instructions

• Repeat instructions and allow time for response

• Don’t talk about the person as if he or she isn’t there

• Avoid using the baby talk or a baby voice when speaking

Communication is a critical component of life. It is how we maintain our relationships. When Alzheimer’s or dementia robs the ability to speak and understand, it can strain the bonds between caregivers and their loved ones. Communication is more than talking and listening. It is also understanding and interpreting.

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