According to the Alzheimer’s Association, more than 5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s today. Managing the disease can be just as much about learning how to talk to someone with dementia as it is to follow doctor’s orders. Understanding how to communicate with your loved one can lessen anxiety and add quality of life to each member of the family.
Here are three tips your loved one might want you to know if they have Alzheimer’s:
- “Embrace my reality.” A person with Alzheimer’s may have forgotten significant life events like the death of a spouse, but if we repeatedly correct them and remind them that Dad died, we create anxiety and grief. However, if we step into their reality and prompt them to talk to us and tell us stories without correcting them, we gain a new perspective and become a part of their life today.
- “Don’t treat me like a child.” An elderly person with dementia does not turn into a child, and they don’t want to be treated like a child any more than you or I do. Remember the person they were before dementia. At Oxford Senior Living we believe understanding who they were before dementia is the path to understanding how to genuinely care for them now. If Dad was a rancher all his life, look for ways to talk to him about life on the ranch.
- “Have patience with me if I struggle to find my words.” When disease ravages your brain, some words may seem out of reach no matter how hard you try to find them. Frustration and anxiety can creep in. When we sit patiently, smiling and helping to complete Dad’s train of thought, his anxiety is lessened and we both are communicating together.