Alzheimer's Disease and Communication

By: HarborView Senior Assisted Living

Alzheimer's disease gradually reduces a person's ability to communicate. Understanding, patience, and good listening skills contribute to better communication with your loved one affected by Alzheimer's.

While communication can be one of the most challenging aspects of caregiving or engaging with Alzheimer's impacted individuals, listed below are some basic principles and strategies that can go a long way toward more effective communication. Read more from the Alzheimer's Association.

Common Communication Characteristics for Individuals Impacted by Cognitive Decline

As Alzheimer’s and dementia progress, there are often observable changes in how an individual communicates. While every person is different and every person’s progression of cognitive decline is unique to them, some common communication patterns characterize individuals experiencing cognitive decline.

Some of these communication characteristics might include:

  • Difficulty finding the right words
  • Losing train of thought repeatedly
  • Struggling to organize words in a logical pattern
  • Difficulty speaking in a second language or language other than the primary language
  • Using familiar words repeatedly
  • Lessened speech in general
  • Using hand motions more than verbal speech

Communication Strategies Throughout the Different Stages of Alzheimer’s

Mild Alzheimer’s: In the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s or mild cognitive decline, impacted individuals can still participate in meaningful social gatherings and carry on conversations. It’s common, however, for stories and questions to be repeated and for people to easily become overstimulated and distracted by loud or overwhelming environments.

  • Ask your loved one what method of communication they most prefer. This could include talking on the phone, texting, emailing, or talking face-to-face.
  • Speak directly to the individual rather than directing questions to caregivers.
  • Allow laughter and humor to lighten the mood.
  • Don’t interrupt or jump in to help unless the person requests it. Allow them to respond and perform tasks on their own.
  • Your support is deeply important. Continue to engage and be a friend.

Moderate Alzheimer’s:

  • Slow and clear speech.
  • Avoid arguing or correcting, even if your loved one is saying something incorrect or something you disagree with.
  • As much as possible, try to have one-on-one conversations in spaces with little to no distractions.
  • Ask simple "yes or no" questions.
  • Employ good listening skills to show the person you care about what they're saying - eye contact, nodding, giving plenty of time to respond.
  • Offer visual cues and step-by-step instructions for tasks.

Memory Care in San Diego, California

Many assisted living homes specialize in memory care and senior care. These communities are dedicated to caring for Alzheimer’s and dementia patients with safety and compassion. HarborView Senior Assisted Living in Banker’s Hill is one of those homes. The owners have personally had loved ones who needed memory care. They created an inviting, welcoming place where people living with Alzheimer’s could be cared for with dignity, respect, and compassion.

Not only is HarborView Senior Assisted Living full of gentle, well-trained, and loving staff members, it’s also situated in Banker’s Hill with a gorgeous view of the bay. Introducing your loved one to a home where they have full-time care, meals cooked for them, laundry done, and safeguards in place allows you to rest easy, knowing they are well cared for.

Schedule a Tour of HarborView Today

The decision to move your loved one into an assisted living community is often an emotional and difficult one. Rest assured that HarborView offers the highest caliber of holistic care. We treat every member of our community as if they were our own loved ones. We'd love to hear from you. Schedule a tour today! We look forward to the opportunity of connecting with you.

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