Do’s and don’ts when working with Alzheimer patients
Do’s in communicating with an Alzheimer patient
- Always keep a friendly, soft tone of voice even if you notice the patient is becoming somewhat aggressive in communication. It is the disease doing it, not the person.
- Always observe the non-verbal communication of the patient. For example, someone licking his/her lips frequently might be thirsty, but might not be able to express that verbally.
- Try to frequently discuss familiar things, events, people. Alzheimer patients struggle with great brain damages, so they need constant reminders about familiar things. Help the patient remember dear memories or talk about family members and events that represent a pleasant memory for the patient.
- Smile often when talking, and speak in a slow and calm manner
- Praise the person as soon as possible. This will help raising their self-confidence, which is extremely important for a person struggling with such a disease
- Be patient and wait for the answer. Patients with Alzheimer’s need time to process information and they need time to express themselves. Communication will not go as fast as with a healthy person, so just be patient.
- Maintaining eye contact while talking is important. This will help the patient assimilate better what you are talking about, and maintaining eye contact is a sign of friendliness and kindness in any communication.
Do not’s in communicating with an Alzheimer patient
- Arguing is the worst you can do. Alzheimer patients can easily become aggressive in their communication; there is no need to amplify this effect. Remember, you are the caregiver so you need to show understanding, calmness and patience
- Communicating while you are angry. When you are angry because the patient doesn’t seem to cooperate, it doesn’t help trying to communicate. Calm down and try explaining things again later.
- Using a demanding tone. This is not good for anyone. Show respect when you are talking to an Alzheimer’s patient and keep in mind that all that aggressiveness or inability to communicate is caused by the disease, and not by the person.
- Treating your patient like a child in communication. There is no need to use baby talk with your patient, but try to communicate the way you do with an adult.
- Using complex phrases. This is yet another mistake, because patients have a huge difficulty in understanding complex phrases, nuances in speaking or irony. Use simple and clear language, while waiting patiently for an answer.
If you or a loved one is living with Alzheimer’s disease, learn more about in-home Alzheimer’s care for a customized treatment plan.