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How to Best Communicate with an Alzheimer's Patient

by Renee Marcus on 7/9/15 9:24 AM

Communicating with a patient who has alzheimer's can be difficult due to the disease diminishing a person's ability to communicate. As you try to communicate with your patient, you will notice that your patient likely has trouble How to communicate with an alzheimer's patientexpressing how she feels and what she's thinking. While this can be a frustrating experience, with patience and the proper skills, you can communicate better with your alzheimer's patient.

  • Be supportive and show your patient that you're trying to understand what she is trying to communicate. Do not interrupt her.
  • If your patient is having trouble expressing himself, let him know it's alright. Encourage him to continue to express what he is trying to say.
  • Do not tell your patient that she is wrong if she says something that isn't correct. For clarification, repeat what she said and try to figure out what she meant. 
  • Even if you disagree with something your patient said, do not argue with him. Doing so might make the situation worse.
  • If your alzheimer's patient uses a word that's not right or can't recall a word, try guessing what word they are trying to find. If you know what the person is trying to say, you might not need to say the correct word.
  • If you're having trouble understanding what your patient is saying, ask her to point or make a gesture to get across what she is trying to communicate.
  • Find a place to communicate that is free of distractions so that your patient can better concentrate. 
  • Be aware of your patient's feelings, as his emotions are what's most important. For instance, the tone of his voice may tell you more than what he is actually verbally saying. 

As you communicate with your alzheimer's patient, it is also important that you be aware of the words that you use.

  • Identify yourself by name when you approach your patient. Make sure to approach her from the front, and at her level, if possible.
  • When talking with your patient, call him by his name. 
  • Use short sentences and simple words. Only ask your patient one question at a time. 
  • It may take your patient a while to respond to you. Wait patiently. 
  • If you need to repeat something you said or repeat your question, do so. 
  • Treat your patient with respect.
  • Use written reminders if your patient understands them.
  • When speaking to your patient, speak slowly.


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