Loving communication: 5 simple steps to optimal communication
Learning to Communicate
Communication is a vital part of our lives. It doesn’t involve just listening and speaking, it also involves understanding and interpreting. Alzheimer’s disease progresses differently for each person affected, which can complicate how you communicate. Changes to how your loved one communicates can bring up stress and frustrations, for both you and your loved one. It’s important when these challenges arise to not give up, but instead come from a place of understanding and patience.
How Does Alzheimer’s Affect Communication?
We have to remember that Alzheimer’s affects the whole brain. Memory loss is widely common, but other abilities become impaired as well. Patients can have trouble finding the right words, and can lose their train of thought. It also affects behaviors and emotions.
It can be frustrating when you cannot communicate effectively or if you feel misunderstood. But also recognize your loved one is frustrated by their situation as well. Here are five tips to help you or your loved one who is struggling with Alzheimer’s.
Patience and Encouragement
Take time to be present and listen to your loved one. Someone who has Alzheimer’s may take longer to process the conversation. If we interrupt or move too quickly, a loved one may get upset or confused. It’s important to speak slowly and clearly, giving opportunities for both parties to speak and listen.
Learn to interpret
Understand what is being said. If the person is struggling to communicate, offer a guess or help them find the right word they’re looking for. Show that you’re there to help, and that you are attempting to understand where they’re coming from. Also, be aware of signs of frustrations or anger, to adjust your responses and actions as needed.
Body language and physical touch
Communication is not only talking. Body language and physical touch are equally important. Be mindful of your tone and expression. A loved one will pick up on impatience, or frustration. Even when words are difficult, emotions are an important channel of communication. Use loving gestures and physical touch, if they’re comfortable with that. A warm hug, and holding hands, can give comfort and reassurance.
Be specific, and positive
Speak clearly, and take time to communicate with your loved one. Work at their pace. Keep the tone of your voice positive and friendly. Connect instead of correcting, and be encouraging to help keep the conversation going.
Someone who has Alzheimer’s may struggle when there are distractions around. Loud noises can make it difficult to listen attentively or concentrate. Be aware of the surroundings ahead of time, or move to an area where there is less activity.
What to do Next?
On days when it is more difficult than others, remember your presence is still felt by someone living with Alzheimer’s. Being a caretaker for someone is not always easy, and you need to take care of yourself at the same time. Having extra support from a Doctor or Health Coach from Solcere can help provide both you and your loved ones with the support that you need.
Contact us to learn more about the support available to you from our Health Coaches or Medical Staff