The Alzheimer’s Association recommends the following tips for better communication:
1. BE PATIENT AND SUPPORTIVE -- Let the person know you’re listening and trying to understand what is being said.
2. SHOW YOUR INTEREST -- Keep good eye contact. Show the person that you care about what he or she is saying.
3. OFFER COMFORT AND REASSURANCE -- If he or she is having trouble communicating, let the person know that it’s ok. Encourage the person to continue to explain his or her thoughts.
4. GIVE THE PERSON TIME -- Let the person think about and describe whatever he or she wants. Be sure not to interrupt.
5. AVOID CRITICIZING OR CORRECTING -- Don’t tell the person what he or she is saying is incorrect. Instead, listen and try to find the meaning in what is being said. Repeat what was said if it helps to clarify the thought.
6. AVOID ARGUING -- If the person says something you don’t agree with, let it be. Arguing usually only makes things worse.
7. OFFER A GUESS -- If the person uses the wrong word or cannot find a word, try guessing the right one. If you understand what the person means, you may not need to give the correct word. Be careful not to cause unnecessary frustration.
8. ENCOURAGE UNSPOKEN COMMUNICATION -- If you don’t understand what is being said, ask the person to point or gesture.
9. LIMIT DISTRACTIONS -- Find a place that’s quiet so you won’t be interrupted. The surroundings should support the person’s ability to focus on his or her thoughts.
10. FOCUS ON FEELINGS, NOT FACTS -- Sometimes the emotions being expressed are more important than what is being said. Look for the feelings behind the words. At times, tone of voice and other actions may provide clues.
FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION AND SUPPORT, CONTACT THE ALZHEIMER’S ASSOCIATION HELPLINE 1-800-272-3900 OR visit their website
WESTMORELAND COUNTYAREA AGENCY ON AGING
INFORMATION LINE200 SOUTH MAIN STREET
GREENSBURG, PA 15601CONTACT: JOAN WAGNER