What You Need to Know About Communicating and Working With Alzheimer's Patients

Living with the effects of Alzheimer’s on a daily basis can be challenging for both patients and their caretakers. And communicating with a loved one who has the disease can also take a significant toll on your relationship if you’re not clear on how Alzheimer’s impacts the way your senior relates to others.
What many family members may not know about a loved one suffering from the disease is that Alzheimer’s can cause significant damage to the neural pathways in the brain. The brain’s neurons are responsible for sending messages back and forth to different parts of the body.
Alzheimer’s interrupts this process, leaving patients unable to express themselves clearly, while making it difficult for them to understand their loved ones.
As a family member or caretaker, you’ve probably experienced first-hand the struggles of talking to a loved one that may be having trouble following simple directions or even recalling certain memories or events. There are times they might hear one thing, when you actually meant something else.
Many families want to know what they can do to improve communication with their senior. Which prompted Freedom Home Care to come up with a few strategies that could help strengthen the way you and your loved one relate to one another.
Expect Changes in Communication
The more it progresses, the more Alzheimer’s takes a toll on the way a person communicates. Some of the changes you might notice are:

  • A loss in train of thought
  • Struggling to find the right words
  • Speaking less
  • Repeating the same words
  • Using gestures more than speech
  • Describing things instead of using names
  • Trouble putting words in a logical sentence

As these changes progress, it’s good to keep in mind that in many cases it’s still possible for your senior to communicate in a meaningful way.
When talking to loved ones, there’s less chance for misunderstanding by remembering that:

  • Your senior’s ability to communicate is not dependent on their diagnosis. It may be easier for a loved one at a certain stage to have thoughtful conversations with family members than someone else with the same diagnosis
  • Be sure to stay present and honest with your loved one
  • Remain patient and supportive
  • Avoid criticizing or correcting your senior. Even if what they said was incorrect there’s usually no harm done because of it
  • Highlight their strengths and encourage their independence
  • Steer clear of arguments. Even if you don’t agree with them, it’s best to let it go
  • Spend plenty of time with your loved one and keep conversations slow and at a steady pace

Other ways you can raise awareness about communication and other challenges facing those fighting the disease is by participating in the annual Walk to End Alzheimer’s.
Each year, more than 600 communities come together across the country to raise funds for care, support and research for the disease.
This event was designed to help change the conversation about Alzheimer’s and to assist families, friends and caregivers of those receiving Chicago in-home care and personalized elder care in better meeting the needs of their loved ones.
If you are in the Chicago area looking to support Alzheimer’s awareness, join Freedom Home Care at the North Shore Walk to End Alzheimer’s. The walk will take place on Saturday, September 16th from 8 am to 3 pm at Gallery Park in Glenview, IL.