Communication Is Key

When living with Alzheimer’s disease, maintaining everyday communication is really important for both the person living with Alzheimer’s disease and the people around them. In the early stages forgetting words, misplacing things or having difficulty understanding instructions can be frustrating. However learning about the condition and what to expect can greatly improve communication.

During the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease people may start to notice they become forgetful or have difficulty expressing themselves. People may lose their train of thought mid-sentence or need more time to respond to what others are saying. This is because Alzheimer’s disease affects communication skills and makes it harder to find the right words and to understand others.

It’s important to remember that although people living with early Alzheimer’s disease may have problems communicating they are still very aware of the people around them. Many of us don’t realise we speak loudly when we think we’re not being understood so remember to always talk in a normal voice and try not to argue.

Talking to each other regularly is also key to successful communication. The person your caring for may have trouble expressing themselves and this is perfectly normal. However, talking about the diagnosis can be useful for you both. Learning about the condition together and knowing what to expect can be an important way to help plan for the future.

There are several other strategies to consider that can help you improve communication with the person you are caring for:

  • Listen and be patient:
    One of the most important things you can do to help the person you are caring for is to listen to them. Make an effort to try to understand what they are saying and don’t rush them when they are speaking.
  • Speak in your normal voice:
    Speak clearly and give the person time to respond. We tend to speak slower and louder if we think we are not being understood so think about how you reply.
  • Keep instructions simple:
    To avoid confusion only ask one question at a time. Identifying the names of people or things can help. The person with Alzheimer’s disease may find it useful if you use using short, simple words.
  • Use reminders and memory aids:
    Writing lists, sticking labels on familiar objects and placing objects such as keys and phones in familiar places may all help.
  • Be encouraging and positive:
    Try not to interrupt or correct sentences while a person living with Alzheimer’s disease is talking. It can be very discouraging.
  • Be aware of your body language:
    People can pick up on your mood from your facial expressions and body language so maintain eye contact when speaking.
  • The value of touch:
    Little things like holding hands can help communicate you care without words.