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Alzheimer's: Communicating and Activities

Find helpful suggestions for communicating with Alzheimer's patients and the importance of keeping them active at HealthyPlace.

Helpful suggestions for communicating with Alzheimer's patients and the importance of keeping them active.

Whose reality?

Fact and fantasy can become confused as Alzheimer's progress. If the person says something you know isn't true, try to find ways around the situation rather than responding with a flat contradiction.

  • If they say, 'We must leave now - mother is waiting for me', you might reply, 'Your mother used to wait for you, didn't she?'
  • Always avoid making the person with Alzheimer's feel foolish in front of other people.

Other causes and Alzheimer's

As well as Alzheimer's, communication can be affected by:

  • Pain, discomfort, illness or side effects of medication. If you suspect this might be happening, talk to the GP at once.
  • Problems with sight, hearing or ill-fitting dentures. Make sure the person's glasses are the correct prescription, that their hearing aids are working properly, and that their dentures fit well and are comfortable.

Physical contact and Alzheimer's

Even when conversation becomes more difficult, affection can help you and the person you're caring for to remain close.

  • Communicate your care and affection by the tone of your voice and the touch of your hand.
  • Don't underestimate the reassurance you can give by holding the person's hand, or putting your arm around them, if it feels right.

Show respect and Alzheimer's

  • Make sure no one speaks down to the person with Alzheimer's or treats them like a child, even if they don't seem to understand what people say. No one likes being patronized.
  • Try to include the person in conversations with others. You may find this easier if you adapt the way you say things slightly. Being included in social groups can help a person with Alzheimer's to preserve their fragile sense of their own identity. It also helps to protect them from the overwhelming feelings of exclusion and isolation.
  • If you are getting little response from the person, it can be very tempting to speak about them as if they weren't there. But disregarding them in this way can make them feel very cut off, frustrated and sad.

 


Communicating with someone with Alzheimer's - tips

  • Listen carefully to what they have to say.
  • Make sure you have their full attention before you speak.
  • Pay attention to body language.
  • Speak clearly.
  • Think about how things appear in the person with Alzheimer's's reality.
  • Consider whether any other factors are affecting their communication.
  • Use physical contact to reassure.
  • Show them respect.

Hobbies, pastimes and everyday activities

We all need to do things that keep us occupied and stimulated. If you can help the person you are caring for to find activities that they enjoy, from taking a walk to looking at photos, you can improve their quality of life. This will make you feel better, too.

How can activities help someone with Alzheimer's?

  • Taking part in activities will help the person you care for to maintain their skills. They may become more alert and interested in what is going on around them. Many activities are also interesting and fun.
  • Carrying out simple tasks can help the person feel better about themselves by giving them a sense of achievement.
  • Some types of activity can help the person you're caring for to express their feelings.

Sources:

  • Alzheimer's Society - UK
  • The Fisher Center for Alzheimer's Research Foundation

APA Reference
Staff, H. (2008, December 8). Alzheimer's: Communicating and Activities, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2020, May 29 from https://www.healthyplace.com/alzheimers/maintaining-quality-of-life/alzheimers-communicating-activities

Last Updated: May 8, 2019

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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