As the Alzheimer's progresses in your parent, it will become more difficult communicating with them. Even simple conversations will take skill and patience. Here are some tips used by memory care specialists at facilities like Gateway Living to continue to have a loving connection with your parent in spite of this disease.
1. Approach all conversations with your parent calmly.
As the disease advances, your parent will become more sensitive to the energy of people around them. They will become agitated should you be angry, frustrated or irritable while around them. Allow yourself a few minutes to calm down should you have a bad day at work or a difficult drive over to see your parent. Don't start a conversation with your parent until you've settled down and can be relaxed around them.
2. Take a break in the conversation should you become frustrated.
Similarly, if you find yourself becoming frustrated while speaking with your parent, excuse yourself and walk away for a few minutes to calm down again.
3. Have your conversations in a quiet space.
Your parent can easily become distracted by sounds and movement around them. A TV playing in the room next door, the landscapers working outside and other people walking through the visitor's area will keep your parent from focusing on your conversation. Take your parent to a quiet area or wait until the distractions are gone before attempting any conversations.
4. Master redirection techniques to help your parent stay focused.
Should your parent become distracted during your conversation, try one of these methods to help them rejoin your conversation:
- Touch them lightly on their arm.
- Say their name quietly.
- Keep eye contact with them.
- Acknowledge the distraction and move on, such as: "That was certainly a loud car outside. As we were discussing about going for a walk in the park..."
5. Stick with uncomplicated questions that require only a "Yes" or "No".
Try to turn every question into a simple "Yes" or "No" choice. When possible, use examples to help your parent make a decision. For example:
- "Would you like to take a walk in the park with me?"
- "Would you like to wear the yellow blouse today?" as you hold up the yellow blouse for them to see.
6. Be patient as your parent responds.
As their cognitive ability declines, your parent will struggle to find the right words with which to respond in a conversation with you. Give them time to answer you. Resist finishing their sentences for them because they may become frustrated when you do. When you see them having difficulty responding, try restating your question in a different way.