Health Services

How can you talk To a Person with Alzheimer’s disease? 


John Ellsworth recognized in 2013 during his diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease that the words were not coming from him correctly. John felt the utmost gravity of this disease when his wife Karlene was helping him out to finish the sentences. The couple lives at Gwynedd in Pennsylvania encountered the challenge of John’s ability of communication.

According to Ruth Drew, the Director of Alzheimer’s Association at Chicago in the family and information services, Alzheimer’s ability to attack the brain cells causes minor changes initially. Afterward, the changes grow to be more profound, and its impact is more towards the language of communication.

Drew says that it is quite difficult for a person with Alzheimer’s disease to say what he/she wants and it is also very much difficult to decode about what other people are saying. It is a challenge for the caregivers and Karlene found it really difficult to communicate with his husband despite the fact that she has no difficulty to find the right words.

But, she has to come up with certain ideas so that she can adjust as well as accommodate with John. Therefore, Ruth Drew has suggested certain good ways by following which communication can be properly done with an individual having Alzheimer’s disease.

The Strategies of Communicating with an Alzheimer’s Patient

  • You have to understand Alzheimer’s first

Difficult in speech, as well as memory, are the common symptoms of Alzheimer’s. Some of the patients revert to their native languages as they try to invent new words. So, it has been seen that many patients start speaking Spanish, French, etc. The patients have a difficult in organizing the words logically and that’s why they prefer to speak less often.

  • Keep attention and how to get attention

Limit the elements of distraction, like- TV, radio. Take the person to a quiet room and during the conversation, always maintain the eye contact. Sit nearby the patient instead of looming above as well as speaking down to the patient. Here, one thing should be kept in mind that touch is also helpful. Gesturing, pointing fingers and holding hands are effective in the case of getting attention.

  • Repeating multiple times

The patients are suffering from Alzheimer’s often fail to recall the details. You should know that it is not intentional and, therefore, try not to get frustrated. Repeat what you are saying multiple times to the patients as it might be helpful.

  • Identify yourself

To strengthen the relationship among the patients and the caregivers, Dr. Robert Santulli has advised that always first identify yourself as the patient don’t remember you sometimes. It is common in the case of dementia.

  • Calling the patient by his/her name

Call the patient by his/ her name and with this, it will create a sense of individuality for the patient.

  • Short and direct sentences and speak in slow

In the case of the Alzheimer’s patients, they find it very confusing when you are sharing something. So, try to use short and direct sentences, limit the requests. Try to make simple and clear-cut communication and speak in much slowly.

According to the doctors, the caregivers also should be specific and mind the tone. Apart from all of these, you can’t only rely on verbal communication for which you have to get familiar with facial expressions and put much thought towards body language as well as behaviour.