The Top Tips for Non-Verbal Communication with Alzheimer's Patients
Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease can be very emotional for both the patient and caregiver. Communication is impaired, and caregivers experience confusion, stress, and frustrations. However, there is a way for caregivers to communicate efficiently using non-verbal communication, touch and music.
When someone with Alzheimer’s begins to lose communication skills, their personalities change, and it is disheartening. It almost makes you angry. You don’t know how to get to them and tell them that they are still valued and loved.
One caregiver, Karey Blaithe, remarked to us, “When a person living with dementia changes the way they communicate with us most of us become what can best be called discombobulated” (confused, disconcerted, upset, frustrated, and then angry).
The way you used to talk with your loved one does not work anymore. They don’t understand, don’t want to understand, or can’t understand. It is difficult when the child becomes the parent, and the parent is now the child, a child who doesn't understand and needs special consideration.
Blaithe goes on to say, "My mother was saying over and over each day – get out, I don’t want you here, I can take of myself. Of course, I tried to explain to her she could no longer live by herself. All this did was make her angry and we had a bad day. Think about it. She just told me she could take care of herself. So why would it make her happy when I told her she couldn’t? It didn’t."
Perhaps your mother doesn’t remember who you are. You meet them repeatedly throughout the day. Not being recognized can send you to your room in tears trying to remember the mom you had when you were little.
You need to learn not to say a word when this type of situation happens. Walk over, put your arm around your mom or your loved one, put your head on her head and say, “I’m going to take care of you.” Then hold the hug for a bit; they can feel you care.
Many times, a person with Alzheimer’s has a total change of personality. Someone who was loving and kind becomes mean and demanding. Try to tell yourself that it isn’t them. Understand that when someone you are caring for has Alzheimer’s or dementia, they don’t know what they are saying or doing. It’s hard not to take offense, but you must realize that they are sick.
It is not them talking and acting.