One of the biggest challenges you may encounter as your loved one progresses through the stages of Alzheimer’s or Dementia is a breakdown in the ways you’re used to communicating with each other. If left unaddressed, it can lead to much heartache, frustration, and disappointment – not only for friends and family but for your loved one as well.
Although they may not be able to express it, people with Alzheimer’s or Dementia are just as frustrated with themselves as you are by the fact that they cannot communicate and have conversations as easily as they have in the past. If we can take the lead here and shift our approach to some of the most common moments, it will set everyone up for success.
Divert – Distract – Reassure:
As these diseases progress, your loved one may have a harder time with rational reasoning and remembering longer conversations, examples or instructions. Rather than trying to reason with them or explain something as you have in the past, try to divert their attention elsewhere. It is likely you’ll have these same moments over and over again – it will save heartache if you can distract them to something that reassures them with positive engagement.
Reminisce – Repeat and Regroup:
Feeling shameful about not being able to remember simple tasks and life memories is common for those suffering from Alzheimer’s or Dementia. Phrases like ‘Remember this…?’ or ‘I just told you…’ only add to the shame they are already feeling. Instead, try to swap those words out for something more positive – simply repeat what it is you want and regroup!
Positive Reinforcement All Around:
Try to stay away from negative words like can’t and don’t. Rather than tell them they can’t do something, find out what they can do or how they can help and offer that as an option. Ask and model a task vs. demanding they do something.
And finally, just as it is for all of us – encourage and praise as much as possible. Make sure to acknowledge the great things your loved is doing and reinforce happy and loving thoughts.