Alzheimer's: Tips for effective communicationAlzheimer's disease presents many challenges, and communication is a big one. Try these tips to ease frustration and improve communication.
By Mayo Clinic Staff
When you try to communicate with a loved one living with Alzheimer's disease, you may feel like you've dropped through the rabbit hole into Alice's wonderland.
Because Alzheimer's disease slowly erodes verbal communication skills, your loved one's words and expressions may make little or no sense to you. In turn, your loved one may have trouble deciphering your words. The resulting misunderstandings can fray tempers all around, making communication even more difficult. Here's help easing the frustration.
What to expect
Alzheimer's damages pathways in the brain, which makes it difficult to find the right words and to understand what others are saying. Your loved one may incorrectly substitute one word for another or invent an entirely new word to describe a familiar object. He or she may get stuck in a groove — like a skipping record — and repeat the same word or question over and over.
A person living with Alzheimer's may also:
Jun. 04, 2013
- Lose his or her train of thought
- Struggle to organize words logically
- Need more time to understand what you're saying
- Curse or use offensive language
See more In-depth
- Communication and Alzheimer's. Alzheimer's Association. http://www.alz.org/care/dementia-communication-tips.asp. Accessed Feb. 16, 2013.
- Caregiver guide. National Institute on Aging. http://www.nia.nih.gov/alzheimers/publication/caring-person-alzheimers-disease. Accessed Feb. 16, 2013.
- Williams KN, et al. Elderspeak communication: Impact on dementia care. American Journal of Alzheimer's Disease and other Dementias. 2009;24:11.
- Small JA, et al. Effectiveness of communication strategies used by caregivers of persons with Alzheimer's disease during activities of daily living. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research. 2003;46:353.
- Miller CA. Communication difficulties in hospitalized older adults with dementia: Try these techniques to make communicating with patients easier and more effective. American Journal of Nursing. 2008;108:58.
- Communicating with someone who has Alzheimer. Fisher Center for Alzheimer's Research Foundation. http://www.alzinfo.org/08/treatment-care/communicating-with-someone-who-has-alzheimers. Accessed Feb. 16, 2013.