The Challenges Of Communicating With A Parent Who Has Alzheimer’s Disease

If you have a parent with Alzheimer's disease, talking with them becomes more difficult as the illness progresses. You'll need to use some of the same techniques that professionals who specialize in Alzheimer's care employ to stay connected with your parent. Here are some of those approaches to continue communicating effectively with your aging parent.

1. Get Rid of Distractions

Your parent will have difficulty staying focused on your conversation if there are other sounds or visual stimuli around them. A TV or radio turned on or children making noise outside is enough to draw your parent's attention away from you and your conversation. Find a quiet place in which to talk with your parent or wait until the distractions are gone before having a conversation.

2. Keep the Tone Positive

Your parent will also become more sensitive to your own energy and mood. They will pick up on even slight levels of frustration and anxiety in you and become uncomfortable themselves. If you've had a rough day at work, let yourself calm down before starting a conversation with your parent. If you're becoming frustrated while talking with your parent, they will pick up on that feeling and make the conversation more difficult. Excuse yourself for a few minutes while you compose yourself before continuing with the conversation.

3. Keep Your Parent Focused on You and the Conversation

Your parent will develop a lack of concentration so their mind will often wander away from the conversation. Gently keep them focused by bringing them back into the conversation with you. Have them keep eye contact with you. Some people respond to a gentle touch on their arm as you speak with them. Use their name often in the conversation to keep their attention.

4. Memory Loss Compounds the Challenges

An unfortunate symptom of this disease is that your parent will become unable to recognize familiar objects and people. Use your own name in a conversation with them and remind them who you are if they become confused. Hold up items as you talk about them so your parent can associate the words with the object.

5. Keep Conversations Short and Questions Simple

A couple of minutes may be all you get to talk with your parent before they become too confused to continue. Speak slowly and use simple words and phrases. Keep questions short and only ask questions requiring a "Yes" or "No" response. Give your parent time to respond and don't respond for them. They will struggle to find the words to use in a conversation so be patient with them.

For more information, contact Bethesda Health Care Facility or a similar location.