The changes that you will notice in your loved one’s ability to communicate may depend upon the environment, the time of day, and the stage of the disease. The progression of Alzheimer’s disease can be broken up into early stage, middle stage, and late stage. Each stage has varying levels of symptoms, and your loved one’s cognizance and ability to communicate may fluctuate throughout these stages.

Communication Tips for Early Stage Alzheimer’s

In the early stages of Alzheimer’s, your loved one may be able to have meaningful conversations and enjoy social activities. Take cues from your loved one’s behavior rather than making assumptions about what they’re feeling or what they want to do. Don’t exclude them from conversations, and speak directly to them rather than talking about them to someone else. Allow your loved one time to express thoughts, needs, and feelings, and don’t interrupt. Ask for your loved one’s input, what they are comfortable doing, and what they need help with.

Communication Tips for Middle Stage Alzheimer’s

If your loved one is in the middle stage of Alzheimer’s, they may have greater difficulty communicating. You will have better luck communicating and bonding with your loved one if you do so in a quiet space that has few distractions. Speak slowly and clearly and maintain eye contact. Remain patient, and give your loved one ample time to respond to what you’ve said. Try to ask one question at a time, and limit yourself to yes or no questions. Try to avoid criticizing, arguing, or losing your patience. You can provide written instructions or visual cues when possible.

Communication Tips for Late Stage Alzheimer’s

The late stage of Alzheimer’s disease may last from several weeks to several years. You may need to rely on nonverbal communication during this stage, depending upon your loved one’s abilities. It may help to encourage pointing, gestures, touch, sight, sound, smell, and taste to communicate with your loved one. Treat your loved one with dignity and respect, and don’t talk about them as if they aren’t there. It is most important that you are present and responsive to your loved one.

In-Person Bonding Tips

People who have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s benefit most from purposeful activities. This means activities that have a demonstrable result, such as cleaning something, shining shoes, organizing photos, sorting objects, clipping coupons, etc. Depending upon the stage of Alzheimer’s your loved one is in, take your cues from them as to what bonding activities would be most enjoyable. You may want to create a memory box or scrapbook, paint, watch movies, or sit outside birdwatching. Remember to maintain eye contact, stay patient and calm, and listen to verbal and nonverbal cues from your loved one.

Tips for Virtual Communication and Bonding

While some people find that communicating via phone can be difficult for a loved one who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, you may have more success with a video call. This may require assistance from a caregiver. Remember to take cues from your loved one, use simple language, speak clearly, repeat things when necessary, use visual clues, and stay patient even if there are awkward silences.

At Arizona Homestead, we provide our residents with exceptional care in a loving, home setting. All of our caregivers are certified in supervisory, personal, and directed care and can provide quality of life management, medication management, safe work practices and memory care. We provide specialized care for residents diagnosed with dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, or stroke. To learn more about how we can help you and your family with assisted care, call us at (520) 245-7881 or contact us online.

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