How to Communicate With Someone Who Has Early-Stage Alzheimer’s
When you are talking to someone with dementia disease, it can be frustrating and difficult to understand how to communicate with patients, especially as they become less legible.
Prior to starting a conversation; get the dementia patient’s attention in a direct way. Approach the person from the front and prevent catching them by surprise which may make them less able to focus on the conversation. Stay conscious of giving the person ample time to fill a silence with words so that a fruitful conversation can happen.
You may even think about altering your conversational style, i.e. sticking to plain words and short sentences whenever possible. If the person does not understand something you have just said, repeat it exactly the way you said it for the first time because this will give him/her more opportunities to figure it out. There are other things to take care of while talking to someone who has Alzheimer’s.
Be Considerate Of Blunders:
Memory glitches are something which is beyond the control of the dementia patient, so if you emphasize his/her impairment, then this may make him/her feel more embarrassed. Instead give polite responses and redirect the conversation to a more positive and happy note. Showing disappointment or frustration would eat away at their self-esteem, so you may choose to limit the corrections and use ‘sorry’ when you don’t understand what he/she is trying to convey.
Rely On Nonverbal Communication:
Facial expressions are quite important for someone who has trouble initiating a conversation. Thus, make an effort to face the person as much as possible and give signals that you are approachable and friendly with your posture and gestures. When you are trying to direct his/her attention to something, giving an encouraging and gentle touch can help guide the person. So, don’t undermine the benefit of physical affection while you talk. For example, you could end a conversation with a kiss on the cheek. All of these expressions can help them feel relaxed and happy.
Provide Conversation Clutches:
You can refer to a person by their name or the name of your relationship to the person. Try to stick to easy to understand and familiar topics while talking to a dementia patient. Avoid discussions that require a great deal of concentration — politics and current events may prove to be just too complicated for the dementia patient to understand. You are expected to carry the conversation yourself and avoid asking too many open-ended questions which may make him/her angry and want to withdraw from the conversation.
Above all this, humor is certainly a great way to encourage someone to open up and make light of situations where it is appropriate to do so. Also, people with dementia disease often like to have a written record of what you have said to go back to since it relieves them of the burden of trying to remember things. Therefore, protect the person you really care for and help him/her to live a joyous and normal life.