You are smiling at me.
I see my reflection in your eyes.
I’ve finally found someone.
Who speaks my language.
Whenever you need the person with Alzheimer’s to complete a task, you will be able to convey your message in a shorter amount of time by showing patience and confidence through body language and words. Here are some ideas for speaking positively:
1. Approach the person in a calm, gentle way and always from the front, to gain trust.
2. Set the stage for conversation with a manner that reflects respect.
3. Speak slowly, in a low tone, using simple sentences rather than complicated language patterns. The person’s hearing is not the problem, so raising your voice is not the answer.
4. Be patient, the person with progressive dementia takes extra time to process.
5. When people other than family members are going to be with the person, be sure and tell them about his personal vocabulary, so that they can use familiar terms for any concepts they are trying to communicate. If the last meal of the day has always been referred as “dinner”, then calling the person to “supper” will not achieve the expected response.
6. Use simple language, because phrases, slang and other speech variations are extremely difficult for a person with Alzheimer’s to interpret. If you suggest to a patient that she is “pulling my leg”, be prepared for her to literally do just that.
Finally, assure the person frequently that their communication is successful. They know failure all too well and need constant reassurance that they are still a functioning human being.