As your parent's Alzheimer's progresses, it will become more challenging communicating with them. Simple discussions will require more patience. Improve your communication with your parent as the disease progresses with these tips from senior care providers who specialize in Alzheimer's and dementia care.
1. Start a conversation only after you are calm.
If you're frustrated by the traffic as you drive to see your parent, take a few minutes to calm down before you start up a conversation with them. Alzheimer's patients can sense excited energy in others and will become agitated themselves. They will be too distracted to have a conversation with you, so take the time to relax before seeing them.
In the same vein, take a break if you feel yourself getting frustrated during the conversation. It may come on slowly until it is obvious to your parent and they begin to get agitated. Excuse yourself for a few minutes as you gather your composure before you continue the conversation.
2. Choose a distraction-free space in which to have the conversation.
You parent will easily be distracted by noises or movement in the area. A loud TV playing next door or people walking back and forth through a visitor's area will prevent your parent from focusing on your conversation. Wait until the distractions are gone or find a quiet place in which to have your chat.
3. Redirection techniques can help your parent focus.
If your parent does get distracted and has difficulty getting back into the conversation, try one the of the following techniques to get their attention:
- Touch your parent lightly on their arm.
- Use their name frequently as you're talking.
- Maintain direct eye contact with them.
4. Ask questions that require a simple yes or no.
Your parent may be confused by questions more complicated than those requiring a yes or no. Try to form all questions this way to keep your parent's attention. When talking about an item at hand, show them the item as a visual queue to what you are asking. For example: Hold up the blue shirt so your parent can see it while you ask "Would you like to wear the blue shirt today?"
5. Give your parent time to respond.
The cognitive ability of Alzheimer's patients is impacted, so your parent may have difficulty finding the right words to use to respond to you. Allow them plenty of time to answer and do not try to finish their sentences for them. This will increase their frustration and you may lose their attention completely. If your parent cannot respond to a specific question, ask it again a different way or move on to another topic.
To learn more about senior care, contact a company like BrightStar Care of Naples/Ft. Myers.