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How to Talk to a Loved One that Doesn’t Understand They Have Alzheimer’s

There are an estimated 5.8 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s Disease. In the 65 and above population, this number represents about one out of every 10 aging individuals. The health-related consequences of Alzheimer’s Disease are significant, but before you can even begin looking down the road ahead, there’s the monumental task of helping your loved one understand their diagnosis.


When a loved one has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s you’ll have plenty of questions, among the most important being how to discuss their condition with them, and how to effectively communicate with them in a manner that doesn’t upset or confuse them in any way. Here are a few important things to remember.


Deciding to Talk About the Alzheimer’s Diagnosis


Deciding when and how to tell a person about their diagnosis is something that should be discussed with their Alzheimer’s care provider. Some families choose to not disclose the diagnosis for fear of upsetting the person, but it’s also important to remember that your loved one deserves the respect of your honesty and that they do have a right to information that involves their personal health.


By having this conversation in the presence of a care provider, they can help explain the disease in terms that may be easier for your loved one to understand, and less scary. They can also give you advice on how to best speak with your loved one and prepare for the communication challenges ahead.


Be Gentle


Stop and consider how you would feel if everyone around you was constantly asking you if you remembered something or telling you that your recollection of events is wrong. When a person has Alzheimer’s Disease, their perception of reality can be completely different from yours. Constantly reminding them of this can leave them sad, confused and depressed.


Respect Them


Just because a person with Alzheimer’s Disease can no longer remember details of their life doesn’t mean that they should be treated with any less respect than you would if they were never diagnosed with the disease. When communicating with a person that has Alzheimer’s Disease, speak to them as an adult, and never as a child. Also, take care in not speaking about them to others as if they weren’t in the room – especially in regard to anything that involves their medical care.


Speak Slow and Use Their Name


The simple act of using a person’s name can help them form a connection between their world living inside Alzheimer’s and the world that surrounds them. They may also have more difficulty processing speech, so anything you can do to help them connect with your words may work to increase their understanding. Talking slow, being purposeful with your words, and making eye contact when speaking with your loved one are all important for better communication.


Getting Your Loved One the Alzheimer’s Care They Need


When your loved one with Alzheimer’s needs specialized care, Princeton Health Care Center is here to help. We’re a skilled nursing and long-term care facility that is capable of handling your loved one’s complex medical needs. Reach out to Princeton Health Care Center to learn more about how we can help build a better quality of life for your loved one with Alzheimer’s Disease.

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