How to Effectively Communicate with a Senior with Alzheimer’s

Talking to a senior loved one living with the challenges that come with Alzheimer’s, particularly in the middle and later stages, can be overwhelming – both for you personally and also for the senior with Alzheimer’s. Brain changes impact the capacity to hear, process, and respond appropriately to conversations, and it’s up to us to put into practice new ways of communicating to more effectively connect with an individual with dementia.

Fortunately, it is easier than you might think. We already communicate nonverbally in lots of ways:

  • Posture and body movement
  • Physical touch
  • Facial expressions
  • Eye contact
  • Personal space
  • Gestures

Try these methods to incorporate more nonverbal communication into your interactions with a senior with Alzheimer’s:

  • Look the senior in the eye. Eye contact communicates interest in the senior, even if no words are spoken.
  • Offer support through gentle touch. If a senior loved one is comfortable with touch, hold and pat the senior’s hand, massage the senior’s back, place an arm around his or her shoulders, and provide affectionate hugs.
  • Recognize personal boundaries. Steer clear of intimidating your loved one by allowing adequate personal space, and making sure you’re at the same level as the senior, never towering over her or him. Your face should always be at eye level with the older adult.
  • Maintain a peaceful, patient, and confident manner. Suppress any anger, aggravation or impatience, and concentrate on maintaining a relaxed and pleasant expression on your face when together with the person. If this is impossible based on challenging behaviors, walk away momentarily and practice deep breathing or some other relaxation techniques, such as:
    • Relaxing phrase repetition: A couple suggestions to get you started: This will pass, and things are ok. I’m able to manage this. I am safe and well.
    • Square breathing: Use your finger to trace the shape of a square in front of you. When tracing the very first side, breathe in deeply for a count of three; for the following side, hold your breath for one second; for the third side, breathe out for a count of three; and for the fourth side, hold your breath for one second. Repeat as necessary.
    • Distracted thinking: Practice concentrated refocusing. Try reciting the alphabet backwards, listing as many state capitals as you possibly can, or singing the words to a well-liked song.

Learn more creative methods of effective dementia care by getting in touch with Happier Home Care. Our caregivers are specially trained in the most current Alzheimer’s care techniques, and we’re always available to help a senior with Alzheimer’s to remain safe and calm, and to enjoy life to the fullest possible potential. Call us at 818-651-6679 at any time for assistance with Burbank home care for a senior you love, or care throughout the nearby area.