Alzheimer’s disease and Dementia are progressive and degenerative diseases that impair memory, judgment, safety, and cognitive processing for new learning and behavior. 5 Million people in this the U.S. have this disease and as the population ages, that number will only increase. We find the following tips very successful ways to interact with people who are living with Alzheimer’s and Dementia:
- Make eye contact- Use face-to-face contact and state their name, and make sure their attention is focused on you. Attend to their gestures and body language to identify how they may be feeling.
- Explain what you are going to do before you do it. People are more comfortable when they know what to expect.
- Ask one question at a time- Don’t use “why” or “how”- these words are hard to process. Ask “who”, “what”, “where” instead.
- Speak slowly, softly and calmly using short sentences. Take a breath between each sentence to pace yourself. Use only one idea or command per sentence.
- Don’t ask them to “remember”. This may cause frustration if they are not able to recall current or past events.
- Focus on the positive and speak to them in an adult voice, baby talk can be off-putting. RESPECT who they were and who they still are.
- Do not argue or try to correct them as this can cause aggressive behavior. If they are speaking about a deceased family member as though they are still alive, you can respond by saying: “Sounds like you had a great relationship.” Ask for their favorite story about the person if they can recall long term. Show them pictures of that person they are recalling to prompt conversation.
- Singing and reading are skills that are often preserved until later in the disease. Sing songs, play music, and read stories from their childhood.
- Try to always agree – Don’t try to bring them back to reality; instead, use what they are saying to make conversation that may interest them.
- Your attitude makes all the difference. We know it’s hard, but you’re the one without symptoms of dementia, so you are the one that needs to accept the diagnosis and adapt to this change. You have control over your thoughts and behavior so your respect and patience is key.
If you or your loved one wants to stay home but needs assistance, give us a call. We’re here to help. 978-282-5575