You know your loved one better than anyone else. As you journey through this disease, you will know how your loved one responds to certain questions, loud noises, body language, and many other components of communication. Do not be afraid to tell others how they need to best communicate with your loved one. The main goal is to protect and care for the person with early onset Alzheimer’s disease.
Below are some common tips to help educate others in how to best communicate with the early onset Alzheimer’s individual:
- Talk to the person directly; make them a part of the conversation
- Ask people to not use the word ‘remember’. This can be a very tough habit to break, but using the word ‘remember’ can often trigger stress in the person with early onset Alzheimer’s disease. They would give anything to remember, but they are often unable to as a result of the disease.
- Talk about happy memories from the past
- Unless it is a matter of physical safety, there is little reason to insist on anything. Encourage them, but there is no need to insist.
- When someone is repetitive with statements or questions, never tell the patient that they just asked that or that you just talked about it. After the second or third repetition, try to change the subject and bring up another topic of conversation. Their brain gets in a ‘loop’ and a change in conversation can often break the current thought pattern.
- Do not try to reason with them. Reasoning skills are often impaired early in the disease process.
- Do not correct the person with the disease. If they do not have the information or the facts of the story correct, it does not matter.
- Ask people to be careful with facial expressions, such as smirking or glancing at others when the person with disease is talking. People may think they won’t notice the glances, but most of the time they do, as they are very self-conscious about what they have lost.
- Touch can be really important. Hugs are good, if the person is willing.
- The person with the disease must be treated with respect at all times. Be very careful of making statements about things that could be humiliating to them. They still need to be treated with respect and love.