How To Talk To Someone With Alzheimer’s: A Helpful Guide

How To Talk To Someone With Alzheimer’s: A Helpful Guide| HealthSoul

People suffering from Alzheimer’s disease experience memory loss and other cognitive problems. For instance, the person may forget a previous act or statement, lose attention, have comprehension difficulty, and fail to do common activities, such as dressing, cooking, and washing.

Communicating with someone who has this disease may sometimes be frustrating and over whelming, even if they’re a loved one. To help you understand and talk to them, check out the following guidelines to make your communication with them easier:

1. Create A Friendly Environment

How do you make an Alzheimer’s patient comfortable? First, make sure you always approach them from the front. An approach from the back might trigger an aggressive behavior like screaming. It’s necessary to assume a friendly posture and demeanor, like standing straight and smiling before them to make them feel comfortable, at ease, and safer. This also shows that you’re warmhearted, thus creating a room for an open conversation.

Secondly, maintain maximum concentration by ensuring the place of interaction is quiet with minimum distractions, and adequate lighting.

Finally, a cheerful mood always helps establish an up-tone environment. Someone suffering from this disease may not able to remember the specific details of your conversation with them but feelings don’t usually fade away. So, they most likely won’t forget how you made them feel. In addition, be careful not to show any sign of frustration while visiting to avoid confusing the patient.

2. Engage In One-On-One Conversation

One-on-one conversations can be done in either a verbal or non-verbal manner. Verbal communication means passing your message through spoken words, but with an Alzheimer’s patient, you may have to repeat your words more often to make the other person understand.

When words fail, you have to use non-verbal communication to give your message. Body language is even better as it’s a powerful tool for initiating a strong connection. For example, touching, holding hands, and a pat on the shoulder may help make the patient stay focused.

Moreover, eye contact is considered paramount in understanding the response of the recipient. Feelings of discomfort, anger, and sadness may be revealed through the eyes, and keenly maintaining an eye contact will help you know how to address how the patient feels.

3. Be Calm And Patient

People with memory loss have a tendency of reacting aggressively to a certain stimulus or change in ambiance. Their response is an indication of how they think or feel, so you’ll need to pay attention to how a person with Alzheimer’s responds, verbally or non-verbally. Aggressive reactions may also signal that they’re experiencing pain or ache in their body, especially for elders. Nonetheless, understanding senior health will help you relate to them and their health condition.

For instance, you might be feeding them but they spit out their food. Spitting out food may  imply that they’re upset, refusing to interact with you. Try not to get annoyed; trying later won’t cause any harm.

Having patience means being ready to understand the different responses of the Alzheimer’s patient by not showing off your immediate frustrations. Countering this situation with anger might bring a conflict like screaming, shouting, or smashing things.

4. Express Yourself Clearly And Slowly

When communicating with a person with memory loss, you often want to keep the conversation free-flowing from topic to topic. Try to maintain a conversation by having brief statements that are easily digestible.

Take charge of the conversation by ensuring the recipient understands what you’re talking about. This can be enhanced by using non-verbal cues to express your words. For example, you want ask if the person is hungry, then you can use sign language by gesturing an eating action.

5. Acknowledge And Give Enough Time For Response

You perfectly know that dementia patients sometimes say words that don’t make sense. Appreciating or acknowledging them gives you a chance to have a free conversation without any patient behavioral changes. For instance, you may repeat the words said to assure you concur. If you’re not sure, you may go ahead and even suggest other possible ideas to make sure that you have understood what’s being said.

While asking questions, give time to the other party to respond. Even if there’s someone else in the room who may answer on their behalf, make sure to direct your attention to the patient and wait for them to reply. You may ask simple questions like how they’re doing.

If you’re not getting any response, ask as many times as possible with reasonable intervals. If it becomes difficult, suggest possible answers. This will easily bring back their memory and prompt them to eventually answer you.

6. Create Written Notes To Help Them Remember

A person with Alzheimer’s has an unreliable memory, and you might not be there all the time to remind them what to do. Simple tasks like taking medication and having breakfast can be jotted down on a sticky note and posted anywhere the patient can see to serve as a reminder. Doing this not only improves the memory but also makes the person feel free and independent.

In addition, notes help give clear instructions when performing tasks on their own. For example, you want them to take medication after every meal, ensure to have their food accompanied with notes on breakfast, lunch, and dinner. On top of this, encourage the use of adaptive utensils for feeding and introduce adaptive dressing just to create some normalcy.


Communication with an Alzheimer’s patient might be difficult, but having the right attitude and following the effective ways mentioned above will help you talk to them properly. Creating a friendly environment and engaging in one-on-one talks might help put them at ease and encourage free-flowing conversations. Being patient and expressing yourself clearly are also good means of making them trust you and communicate with you. Make sure to give allowance for responses too. Lastly, help refresh their memory by creating written notes about their usual activities.