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04/03/2009 - Articles

How To Talk To Someone With Alzheimer's

By: Robert W. Griffith, MD

It's not always easy to communicate effectively with someone with Alzheimer's. Here are some Dos and Don'ts that may help. They are often forgotten, even by family friends, relatives and caregivers.

It's not always easy to communicate effectively with someone with Alzheimer's. Here are some Dos and Don'ts that may help. They are often forgotten, even by family friends, relatives and caregivers.

DOs

  • Approach from the front, make eye contact, and introduce yourself if necessary.
  • Speak slowly, calmly, and use a friendly facial expression.
  • Use short, simple, and familiar words.
  • Show that you are listening and trying to understand what is being said
  • Be careful not to interrupt; avoid arguing and criticizing.
  • Ask one question at a time, and allow time for a reply.
  • Make positive suggestions - e.g. "let's go into the garden" rather than negative ones, such as "don't let's go in there".
  • Identify others by name, rather than using pronouns ("she", "he").
  • Make suggestions if the person has trouble choosing.
  • Empathize; have patience and understanding. Touch or hug, if it helps.

 

DON'TS

  • Don't talk about the person as if he or she weren't there
  • Don't confront or correct, if it can be avoided.
  • Don't treat the person as a child, but as an adult.

 

You can often cheer someone up by complimenting them on past achievements - raising children, work done, contributions to the community, and so on. Let them reminisce, and lead them on, without asking searching questions that may be difficult for them to answer.

Links

The 36-Hour Day : A Guide to Caring for Persons With Alzheimer's Disease, Related Dementing Illnesses and Memory Loss in Later Life The Last Childhood : A Family Story of Alzheimer's

Created on: 01/15/2003
Reviewed on: 04/03/2009

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