One of the biggest obstacles that caregivers tend to face with Alzheimer’s patients is communication.
As Alzheimer’s disease progresses, the communication skills of a person will gradually decline. It becomes increasingly difficult for that individual to communicate in the way they once did. Eventually, the patient will have more difficulty expressing thoughts and emotions.
Some of the communication problems expected at various stages of the disease are:
- Difficulty finding the right words
- Repeating the same words over and over again
- Speaking less often
- Relying on gestures rather than speaking
- Difficulty expressing thoughts
Tips For Communicating With Early Stage Alzheimer’s Patients:
- Speak directly to the person if you want to know how he or she is doing
- Take time to listen how the person is feeling or how he or she is thinking
- Give the person time to respond
- Allow them to finish their sentence
- Respect seniors and do not talk to them as if they are children
It is important to engage them in meaningful conversation and social activities. Do not exclude the person from conversations with others. Explore which method of communication is most comfortable for the person. Do not sound agitated or impatient when communicating with them. They may feel the tone and refuse to communicate with you further.
Friendship and support are important to the person living with Alzheimer’s as they are often seen to be confused. Remember that your loved one is not acting this way on purpose. Do not take it personally. Use patience and understanding to help him or her feel safe and secure.
Tips For Communicating With a Mid To Later Stage Alzheimer’s Patients:
- Move your head to be at the same level as their head
- Approach them face to face and make eye contact
- Speak slowly and speak in short sentences
- Repeat your sentence if necessary
- Speak calmly and ask one question at a time
- Avoid criticising or correcting them
- Do not argue with them
- Tell them what you are going to do before doing it
It is important to remember that communication is a two way process. Just as your loved one has had to change the way they communicate due to their illness, the caregiver will also need to change the way that he or she communicate, due to their illness.
Always treat them with dignity and respect. Sometimes their emotions being expressed are more importantly than what is being said. Always look for the feelings behind their words or sounds.
Despite the challenges, effective communication can make a great deal of difference in your quality of life and your loved one’s quality of life as well.
Communication – The Heart Of All Approaches To Dementia
I recommend this book Communication and the Care of People with Dementia by John Killick for care givers and early stages of Dementia patients.
This book argues that communication is at the heart of all approaches to dementia care, and is an in-depth exploration of ways of establishing and developing communication with people with dementia. It examines both the nature of dementia as a condition and the subjective experience of those affected.
The authors consider in detail how communication between people with dementia and those who care for them changes, and how it can be maintained and enhanced. They include a significant amount of material quoted from people with dementia, and suggest ways of interpreting their words and actions.
We learn about what it might be like to have dementia, and what sort of help is needed by people in this situation. Throughout the book the authors address the ethical issues and the implications for practice.
“The combination of creativity and critical analysis which the joint authors as poet and psychologist bring to this book is especially productive…The interweaving of substantial practice examples based on conversations with people with dementia give persuasive authority to the careful exposition and detailed analysis. The book is much more than an exhortation to carers about how they should communicate. It challenges them to understand themselves and shows how they might use themselves to engage with people with dementia.” – Faith Gibson, Emeritus Professor of Social Work
Communication and the Care of People with Dementia is a key resource for students and professionals in health and social care work, including those in such fields as social work, nursing, occupational therapy, speech therapy, physiotherapy, clinical psychology, geriatric medicine, and the management of services.
“Communication and the Care of People with Dementia published last year has been hailed as ‘essential reading’ for psychologists, old-age psychiatrists, social workers and managers of dementia specialist services. – A A Gill (The Sunday Times Magazine 2003-11-11)
“This is a timely, deeply challenging but ultimately encouraging publication. Person-centred dementia care, pioneered by Tom Kitwood, Malcolm Goldsmith and others, stands in need of this comprehensive theoretical and practical presentation based upon considerable experience. John Killick’s nine-year involvement as writer in residence with Westminster Health Care is ably complemented by Kate Allan’s psychological expertise and commitment to giving a voice to people with dementia in the development of services…The outcome is a heady, wholesome and above all intensely humane mix, enlivened by numerous verbatim accounts of John’s conversations with individual persons with dementia which are interpreted with great sensitivity…we should be profoundly grateful for this book which can aptly described as a work of love.” – Generations Review (Generations Review 2003-10-30)
“Communication and the Care of People with Dementia is an essential read for all existing and future health and social care professionals who may come into contact with people who have dementia.” – Dementia: International Journal of Social Research & Practice (Dementia: The Int Jnl of Social Res & Practice 2003-10-28)
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