Communication Strategies for Caregivers

As a caregiver, you might feel impatient when the person with Alzheimer’s struggles to find words or forgets what they want to say. Here are some ways to communicate more effectively with your loved one:

• Ask questions that require a yes or no answer. For example, you could say, “Are you tired?” instead of “How do you feel?”
• Limit the number of choices. Try, “Would you like a hamburger or chicken for dinner?” instead of “What would you like for dinner?”
• Use different words if he or she doesn’t understand the first time. For example, if you ask the person whether he or she is hungry and you don’t get a response, you could say, “Dinner is ready now. Let’s eat.”
• Try not to say, “Don’t you remember?” or “I told you.”
And remember—if you become frustrated, take time out for yourself. Go for a walk or practice deep breathing.

Author: Raj C. Shah, MD

I am geriatrician and an Associate Professor in the Department of Family Medicine and the Rush Alzheimer's Disease Center.

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