When you’re caring for, or living with, an Alzheimer’s patient, communication becomes a much different proposition. And how you do it can make or break the relationship.
Good communication can dramatically lower the incidence of behavior or temper flare-ups. And the opposite is true of ineffective communication. It’s important to remember that your loved one is an individual… that the disease doesn’t define him. He’ll still have many of the same personality traits he had before. And he should be treated with the same respect.
Everyone needs to know their feelings are respected. This is especially of Alzheimer’s patients, who may be insecure about memory loss. Keep in mind that their feelings may not be entirely accurate; for example, another relative may not really be doing anything to make him angry. But he is feeling angry, nonetheless. It’s the nature of the illness. And oftentimes it’s the illness talking, not your father.
Acknowledge his anger (or frustration, etc.), by saying you understand he’s angry. And then move on.
You may be surprised to find that your Dad responds well to affirmation of his feelings. And that a “good job!” or “well done, Dad!” can go a long way!
- Speak slowly. And use simple sentences.
- Yes/no questions are best.
- Ask one question at a time.
- Maintain eye contact when speaking.
- Lower your voice. A loud or tense voice may be perceived as anger.
- Use the power of touch… a hand on a shoulder, etc.
- Use the power of hugs… liberally.
- Never argue.
- Be aware of his body language, which might indicate pain or discomfort. And be aware of yours, which might indicate tension!
Lastly, ask questions. Not of your Dad, but of an expert. At The Law Offices of Alice Reiter Feld & Associates, we have one of the largest Alzheimer’s Resource Centers in South Florida.
We’ve been walking South Florida families through the Alzheimer’s Journey for 33 years. And we’ve helped thousands of them, with comprehensive estate planning, wills, trusts, powers of attorney, long-term care planning, asset-protection plans, and assistance with Medicaid or the VA.
We know every step of the Alzheimer’s Journey. And we’re just a phone call away.
How Do I Communicate With a Loved One Who Has Alzheimer’s?