Communicate With Seniors With Alzheimer’s: Stage by Stage

Communicate With Seniors With Alzheimer’s

Learn how to communicate with seniors with Alzheimer’s at different stages of their condition.

Even the most simple needs can be a struggle to communicate for aging adults with Alzheimer’s disease. As a family caregiver trying to communicate with seniors with Alzheimer’s, you may feel at times as though you’re trying to solve a puzzle in determining how to meet the needs of someone you love and ensure life is as fulfilling, safe, comfortable, and enriching as can be.
The Alzheimer’s Association provides these helpful, stage-by-stage tips to help communicate with seniors with Alzheimer’s:

Early Stage

In the early stage of the disease, the person can usually still communicate clearly for the most part, but may start to repeat stories or struggle to think of the word they want to use. You can assist by:

  • Listening without correcting, interrupting, or filling in the blanks. If the person is unable to think of the word “toothbrush” and describes it as “the thing you put into your mouth,” accept that description respectfully.
  • Never excluding the person from conversations, or talking about them as if they’re not present. Talk to the senior directly, utilizing as much time as needed to permit them to express what they want to say.
  • Though you should never laugh at the individual or put them down them in any way, sharing humor and laughter is perfectly fine and can ease communication difficulties.

Middle Stage

It becomes more challenging to communicate with seniors with Alzheimer’s as the disease progresses. Try:

  • Talking clearly and slowly, looking the individual in the eye.
  • Reducing distractions. Turn off the television or radio, and talk with the person in a quiet location.
  • Asking yes or no questions that can be answered more easily; for example, “Would you like cereal for breakfast today?” rather than, “What would you like for breakfast?”
  • Continuing to permit plenty of time for the person to respond.
  • Using visual cues or simple, step-by-step instructions for completing a task.
  • Never arguing.

Late Stage

Nonverbal communication is increasingly important in the later stage of the disease:

  • Encourage the individual to communicate nonverbally using gestures and pointing.
  • Always approach the person face-to-face and tell them who you are.
  • Just being there as a comforting presence sometimes communicates better than any words.
  • Try to figure out what the senior is feeling by the words or sounds being made along with facial expressions and other forms of body language.

For more tips and resources to help you in caring for someone you love with dementia, contact our dementia care experts online or at (480) 498-2324 any time. We’re here to partner with you to ensure the person you love is living life to their highest possible potential, and allowing you to take much-needed breaks from care. Whether you need just a few hours of help each week, around-the-clock care, or anything in between, Endeavor In Home Care is here to offer top-rated Mesa senior home care and care throughout the nearby areas.