Tips for communication with a person who has Alzheimer’s:
- Make eye contact. Always approach them face-to-face and make eye contact. Use their name if you need to. Always approach from the front as approaching and speaking from the side or from behind can startle them.
- Be at their level. Bend your knees or sit down to reach their level. Do not stand or hover over them – it is intimidating and scary.
- Tell them what you are going to do before you do it. Particularly if you are going to touch them.
- Speak calmly. Always speak in a calm manner with an upbeat tone of voice, even if you don’t feel that way.
- Speak slowly. Speak at one half of your normal speed when talking to them. They cannot process words as fast as non-diseased people can.
- Speak in short sentences. Speak in short direct sentences with only one idea to a sentence.
- Only ask one question at a time. Let them answer it before you ask another question.
- Don’t say “remember”. Many times they will not be able to do so, and you are just pointing out to them their shortcomings.
- Turn negatives into positives. For example say “Let’s go here” instead of “Don’t go there”.
- Do not argue with them. It gets you nowhere. Instead, validate their feelings, by saying” I see that you are angry (sad, upset, etc…). It lets them know that they are not alone and then redirect them into another thought.
Note: This is a shortened version of an article published by Carole Larkin on the Alzheimer’s Reading Room (AlzheimersReadingRoom.com)Please see that article for more detail on each of the ten tips listed above.