Communication and Alzheimer’s disease

Alzheimer’s Disease is a progressive disease that affects a person’s memory and ability to do tasks.  Communication and language is difficult at all stages of Alzheimer’s Disease.  People with Alzheimer’s may find it difficult to remember words but they also have difficulty understanding what is being said to them.  Sometimes this can be very frustrating for both the caregivers and the person with the disease.  

There are several ways to help communicate with a person afflicted with Alzheimer’s Disease.  First try to keep things simple, say the sentence slowly and repeat it when necessary.  Offer yes and no type questions such as “Are you hungry?”  Offer choices with examples of what you are asking, such as “Would you like salad (show a salad) or soup (show soup)?  Keep your directions simple and short.  Use different words if the person does not seem to understand the current word you are using.  

Other things that can help are to watch your tone of voice, look the person in the eye, don’t talk about the person like they are not there, try to use light touch such as holding a persons hand while talking to them.  Give the person time to respond even if it seems like an uncomfortable to you.  

Always remember if you become too frustrated and this happens, leave the room regroup and try again.  

For more information go to the National Institute of Health or National Institute on Aging and search for Alzheimer’s Disease