Best Practices in Caregiving
STRATEGIES FOR COMMUNICATING WITH SOMEONE WITH ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE – PART 1
Keep it Simple-it’s the rule when communicating with a loved one with memory loss. Here are some helpful tips:
1. Easy as 1-2-3
Say the individual’s name and identify yourself to him or her even if you are a family member this includes everyone - adult children, grandchildren and even the spouse. If the person has forgotten the relationship – reminding him/her that you are the “daughter” or “spouse” might only upset them – just saying for example, “Hi John, I am Sherrie, and I came to visit with you today.” As opposed to “Hi Dad – I am here to see you today.”
2. Enter the Person's World. The speaker must be willing to enter the person's world. For instance, if the person tells you that he/she just went to a Yankee game (and that is not reality)–you ask about the game–Who won? Did you have a good time? Did you eat a hot dog? Tell me all about it. Don’t argue with the person.
3. Keep it positive (avoid the negative)
Negative: “Don’t put your hand in the gravy”.
Positive: “Please put your hands in your lap” (use gestures).
4. How to handle choices
“We are having macaroni for lunch today.” (smile) versus “What would you like for lunch today? ”There are exceptions. Remember life is about daily change. Be flexible. If you need to ask a question, limit the choices given. “Would you like chicken or macaroni today?”
5. Keep it Simple
Simplify your statements-avoid being lengthy. The person with Alzheimer’s may forget the first part of the explanation before the speaker is even finished!
6. Give Instructions One Step at a Time (Use Verbal and Tactile Cues)
Break tasks into simple steps:
“Pick up the comb.”
“Comb your hair”
“Pick up your toothbrush.”
“Put the toothpaste and put on toothbrush”
“Put the toothbrush on your teeth”
Use motions to help the person understand what you are asking.