Alzheimer’s Visiting Tips

The path along Alzheimer’s disease is a difficult road to walk, both for the afflicted and their loved ones. Miscommunication can cause frustration on both sides. When visiting a friend or loved one, apply these tips to ensure clearer communication:

  • Approach the person from the front and say who you are. Keep good eye contact; if the person is seated or reclined, go down to that level.
  • Call the person by name. It helps orient the person and gets his or her attention.
  • Speak slowly and distinctively using a gentle and relaxed tone.
  • Patiently wait for a response. The person may need extra time to process what you said.
  • Repeat information or questions as needed. If the person doesn’t respond, wait a moment, then ask again.
  • Provide the solution rather than the question. For example, say, “The bathroom is right here,” instead of asking, “Do you need to use the bathroom?”
  • Give visual cues. To help demonstrate the task, point or touch the item you want the individual to use or begin the task for the person.
  • Be aware of your feelings and attitude—you may be saying you’re happy but communicating through your tone of voice that you are stressed. Use positive, friendly facial expressions and nonverbal communication.
  • If you are a member of the clergy, wear a collar during a visit, even if it is not an everyday part of your wardrobe. The collar is a symbol the individual with Alzheimer’s disease may readily recognize and respond to.
Compiled from the Alzheimer’s Association (www.alz.org) and the editorial staff of Church Health Reader.

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