Marking World Alzheimer's Month - Communication Tips

September 21, World Alzheimer's Day

September is World Alzheimer's Month, the time of year when we and many other individuals and organisations around the world try to do two things. We try to raise the level of people’s understanding about Alzheimer’s and, in doing, so hope to reduce the stigma around the condition. It is possible to live well with Alzheimer’s but only if more people know how they can help.

Perhaps the most important part of this is understanding how best to communicate with people living with dementia. Here are a few simple tips to help you communicate with your loved who may have the condition:

  • Acknowledge what they’ve said. Even if they don't answer the particular question you’ve asked, let them know that you've heard and encourage them to say more.
  • Communication isn’t just about words. Gestures, facial expressions and other kinds of body language can all help to get your message across, especially when speaking becomes more difficult.
  • Have a laugh together. Humour is a great way to help bring you closer together, and often helps relieve any tension that’s developed.
  • Be an ACTIVE listener. In most communication listening is just as important as speaking, and this is doubled when interacting with people living with dementia. Also, watch out for non-verbal cues (facial expressions etc.) and consciously try to understand what they’re telling you.
  • Let your loved one express their feelings – whatever they are. If they’re feeling down, don’t try to convince them they’re not! Showing you care by just listening is often all they’re looking for.
  • Use physical contact to reassure. Holding or patting the person's hand or putting your arm round can sometimes be the most comforting thing you can do for your loved one. No words required!
  • Use visual aids. Writing your message down or using objects or pictures is often a great way to overcome a hurdle in your communication.

Communication with people living with dementia can sometimes be difficult and frustrating, both for the individual themselves and their carers and loved ones. But using simple techniques like active listening, visual props and laughter will reduce any tension and make meaningful communication something you can continue to enjoy.

If you would like to speak to someone about how we might be help with an older loved one, living with dementia or not, then please get in touch. Call Alison on 0161 884 0562 or drop an email to [email protected]