It’s not only what you say but how you say it that makes all the difference when communicating with people with Alzheimer’s disease. Facial expressions and body language count.
As the brain disorder progressively causes people to lose the ability to communicate, remember and make sense of the environment, they may repeat questions, and find it harder to speak and understand. As their skills decline, the importance of how caregivers communicate—verbally and non-verbally—increases.
Most of all, caregivers should rely on the four Ss: Simple, Slow, Show and Smile.
Use simple words and simple sentences, and give step-by-step instructions. Speak slowly, and do not rush a response to a question or statement. Show what you are saying with body language, facial expressions and gestures; for example, reinforce your words by demonstrating an action, such as brushing your teeth. Smile, so that the person better understands your intent and feels reassured.
Find more tips on enhancing interactions at the Alzheimer's Foundation of America.