Providing Relief for the Alzheimer’s Caregiver

Communication Tips for Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s disease gradually diminishes a person’s ability to communicate. People with dementia have more difficulty expressing thoughts and emotions, as well as more trouble understanding others. Here are some tips to help in communication and understanding:

  • Learn to create a ‘kind voice’ – slower, lower, smiling​​​​​
  • ​​​​​Talk slowly and clearly.
  • To orient the person and get his or her attention:​​​​​
    • ​​​​​Call the person by name.
    • ​​​​​Always approach the person from the front so there are no surprises
    • Tell the person who you are, even if you are the spouse or child.​​​​​
  • ​​​​​Ask one question at a time.
  • ​​​​​Use short, simple words and sentences.
  • ​​​​​Avoid using logic and reason.
  • Avoid quizzing.
  • Avoid asking, "Do you remember when...?"
  • Do not take any negative communication personally.
  • Be careful not to interrupt.
  • Avoid criticizing, correcting and arguing.
  • Let the person know you are listening and trying to understand what is being said.
    • Keep good eye contact.​​​​​
    • ​​​​​Show the person that you care about what is being said.
  • Patiently wait for a response as extra time may be required to process your request.
  • Repeat information and questions. If the person doesn't respond, wait a moment. Then ask again.
  • Focus on the feelings, not the facts.
    • Sometimes the emotions being expressed are more important than what is being said.​​​​​
  • Let the person think about and describe whatever he or she wants.
    • ​​​​​If the person uses the wrong word or cannot find a word, try guessing the right one.
    • If you don't understand what is being said, ask the person to point or gesture.​​​​​

Tip resources: the Alzheimer's Association Web site www.alz.org

Web Resources

Caregiver Stress Test
The Caregiver Stress Check, available by the Alzheimer’s Association, helps caregivers to Alzheimer’s patients identify caregiver burnout, and offers resources to help deal with the burnout.

Alzheimer’s Disease: Caregiver Guide
This informative guide offers useful tips and advice for caregivers dealing with Alzheimer’s patients.

Caregiver Guide
The National Institute on Aging provides a detailed guide to help those who care for a person with Alzheimer’s disease from becoming overwhelmed.

Support Network
The Mayo Clinic provides tips for the Alzheimer’s caregiver to get help from friends and family in sharing the burden of care.

Elder Abuse Can Be Reduced by Training Caregivers About Dementia
This informative article, available on HealthCentral.com, outlines the increase in elder abuse among Alzheimer’s patients and provides insight as to how to combat the issue.

What the Caregiver Needs
HelpGuide.org offers tips and advice to Alzheimer’s caregivers for maintaining emotional and physical fitness.

Communications Basics for Alzheimer’s Caregivers
This helpful article from About.com provides tips for caregivers to maintain effective communication with Alzheimer’s patients.

Caring for Someone with Alzheimer’s
This informative overview provided by the National Institute of Aging details all aspects of caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease.

How Alzheimer’s Affects the Brain
AgingCare.com offers this informative primer for caregivers to help understand how Alzheimer’s patients think.

Alzheimer’s: When to Stop Driving
MayoClinic.com provides valuable tips and advice for helping those whose loved ones suffer from Alzheimer’s take the keys away once and for all.