Effective Ways of Communicating with Seniors with Alzheimer’s

Family caregiver hugging happy senior woman
Learn effective methods of communicating with seniors with Alzheimer’s.

Communicating with seniors with Alzheimer’s, especially in the middle and later stages, can be a challenge – both for you and for the person with Alzheimer’s. Brain changes impact the capacity to hear, process, and respond effectively to conversations, and it is up to us to put into practice innovative communication techniques to more successfully interact with someone with dementia. One key tactic that is often highly effective is nonverbal communication.

Thankfully, it’s really not as hard as it may seem. We already communicate nonverbally in lots of ways:

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

Try these strategies to include more nonverbal communication as you work on communicating with seniors with Alzheimer’s:

  • Offer support through kind touch. If your family member is comfortable with touch, hold and pat the senior’s hand, rub the senior’s back, place an arm around his or her shoulders, and share affectionate hugs.
  • Honor personal boundaries. Steer clear of intimidating the senior by allowing sufficient personal space, and making sure you are at the same level as the individual, never towering over her or him. Your face should be at eye level with the older adult.
  • Look the senior in the eye. Eye contact conveys interest in the person, even if no words are spoken aloud.
  • Always keep a peaceful, patient, and confident demeanor. Suppress any anger, frustration or impatience, and focus on maintaining a relaxed and pleasant look on your face when you are with the person. If this turns out to be daunting based on difficult behaviors, walk away momentarily and practice deep breathing or some other relaxation strategies; for example:
    • Square breathing: Use your finger to draw 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 next 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 many times as needed.
    • Distracted thinking: Practice concentrated refocusing. Try reciting the alphabet backwards, stating as many state capitals as you can, or singing the lyrics to a favorite song.
    • Calming phrase repetition: A few examples to get you started: This will pass, and things are ok. I am able to manage this. I am secure and well.

Find more creative tips for effective Alzheimer’s care by getting in touch with Heaven at Home Senior Care. Our care professionals are specially trained in the most current Alzheimer’s care techniques, and we’re always available to assist a senior with dementia to remain safe and calm, and to enjoy life to his or her fullest possible potential. If you need help from Heaven at Home Senior Care, the top provider of Denton hospice and home care and care throughout the nearby areas, contact us online, or call us at 940-380-0500 at any time for assistance.