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Carole Larkin’s Tips for Communication

Tips for communication with a person who has Alzheimer’s:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Tell them what you are going to do before you do it. Particularly if you are going to touch them.
  4. Speak calmly. Always speak in a calm manner with an upbeat tone of voice, even if you don’t feel that way.
  5. 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.
  6. Speak in short sentences. Speak in short direct sentences with only one idea to a sentence.
  7. Only ask one question at a time. Let them answer it before you ask another question.
  8. Don’t say “remember”. Many times they will not be able to do so, and you are just pointing out to them their shortcomings.
  9. Turn negatives into positives. For example say “Let’s go here” instead of “Don’t go there”.
  10. 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 ( see that article for more detail on each of the ten tips listed above.

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