Caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s can be challenging, even on the good days. The Lakeside Manor, Alzheimer’s Care San Diego program has taught us that communication issues are often at the core of family member challenges. Luckily, there are things you can do to help conversations flow more smoothly and ensure that your loved one can understand the point you are trying to convey and get their own points across as well. Alzheimer’s affects each person differently so some of the tips provided here may not apply to your particular situation. Keep experimenting until you find the perfect combination to meet your loved one’s needs.
Familiarize Yourself with the Condition
The more you know about Alzheimer’s, the better you will be able to accommodate your loved one’s needs. The next time you take your loved one to visit their doctor, come prepared with questions and concerns. Your loved one’s doctor should be more than willing to discuss the condition with you in detail. If they are unable or unwilling to give you the time and attention you need, it may be time to find a more accommodating doctor.
Greet the Person by Name
Many people who suffer from Alzheimer’s have difficulty maintaining their sense of identity as they lose grasp on their memories. Always greet the person by name and continue to use their name throughout the conversation. Not only will this help them maintain their identity, but it is also just common courtesy and respect.
Your loved one may have difficulty remembering who you are. Introduce yourself each time you see them. You may wish to add qualifiers as well, like “your sister Nancy’s son” or “your friend from XYZ University” to help them grasp who you are. Try not to take it personally if your loved one doesn’t remember you, even if you visit frequently. It is not a slight against you; this is just part of the disease.
For people with Alzheimer’s, just having a conversation is challenging enough. Try to choose a location that has as few distractions as possible. Turn off the TV and face away from other people nearby when possible. The fewer distractions there are in the environment, the better your loved one will be able to follow the conversation and stay engaged. Keep conversations one-on-one whenever possible. Conversations with multiple speakers are more difficult for those with Alzheimer’s to follow.
Speak in Short Sentences
Your loved one’s attention span is likely incredibly short so use short, simple sentences as much as you can. Try to avoid telling long, complicated stories, as your loved one will have difficulty keeping track of the details. Instead, stick with just one main idea per sentence to give them the best chance of understanding. Proceed through the story in a step-by-step manner, stopping regularly to make sure your loved one is following along.
When having a conversation with a person with Alzheimer’s, you will probably have to repeat yourself frequently. Don’t get annoyed by this; your loved one is just trying to understand what you are saying. Your loved one will likely repeat themselves often as well, telling the same story over and over. Don’t discourage them, even if you have heard the same story ten times in one day. You don’t want to embarrass the person or make them feel uncomfortable talking to you.
Ask Direct Questions
When asking questions, it is best to stick with those that have yes or no answers in order to keep things as simple as possible. Asking open-ended questions may confuse a person with Alzheimer’s and make it difficult for them to work out how to respond. With yes-or-no questions, you can guide the conversation slowly so they are able to follow.
Avoid Pointing Out Difficulties
Try to avoid drawing attention to your loved one’s shortcomings. Asking questions like, “Don’t you remember?” can make your loved one feel uncomfortable. The end result is that they may become withdrawn and avoid conversation, which is the opposite of what you want. Instead, do your best to be as accommodating and patient as possible so that your loved one feels comfortable talking to you. The easier the conversation is, the more likely that your loved one will remain engaged and interested.
Consider an Alzheimer’s Care San Diego Facility
If you start to find that caring for your loved one with Alzheimer’s is becoming more difficult than you can manage on your own, it may be time to think about placing them in a home where they can receive the expert care they need. Here at Lakeside Manor, we provide dedicated Alzheimer’s care in San Diego. Our caregivers are highly trained to give your loved one the care and attention they deserve.
We strive to create an environment that is as home-like as possible, and we encourage friends and family members to come and visit as often as they like. We want our residents to still feel connected to the people who have been a part of their lives. We welcome you to get in touch with us to learn more about our services and to schedule a tour of our inviting facility. Call us today to get started.