In the video below, Kristin and her lovely grandmother, Kay, will show you one way you can talk to somebody with Alzheimer’s to make them feel included and help them keep a sense of normalcy in their daily lives.
One of the hardest parts of coming to terms with a loved one’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis is learning how to communicate with that person as he or she slowly loses the capacity to speak, remember facts, and follow the progression of a conversation. Sadly, many people have trouble coping with this change and end up simply avoiding talking to that person rather than learning the best way to communicate with them.
However, even the people who recognize the importance of maintaining that communication make mistakes in how they go about doing it. Some feel a compulsion to correct any falsehoods the person with Alzheimer’s may say. Others like to test the memory of the Alzheimer’s patient with questions. Whether the goal of this is to see how far the disease is progressed, convince themselves that the person still knows who they are, try to “re-teach” facts to the person, or some other reason, questions and corrections do not serve a valid purpose and only make the person with Alzheimer’s feel bad about not knowing the answers.
Kristin advises going along with what a loved one says, even if it’s gibberish. It’s important to do your best to get on the same level as the person you’re talking to, accept that their reality is not exactly the same as your reality, and try to include them in your conversations anyway. Focus on making eye contact and including the person in the conversation. Her other tips for making the conversation valuable for the person with Alzheimer’s may surprise you with how simple and easy they are.
And even if you aren’t surprised, you’re still guaranteed to have your heart melted by this adorable granny. Kay is not very communicative in the beginning of the conversation, but when Kristin gets her started talking, watch out! This little old lady has a lot of pep and vigor left!
Elizabeth Nelson is a wordsmith, an alumna of Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, a four-leaf-clover finder, and a grammar connoisseur. She has lived in west Michigan since age four but loves to travel to new (and old) places. In her free time, she. . . wait, what’s free time?