ASK PETER: All You Would Like to Know About Senior Care, Dementia, and Alzheimer's Care

12 hints for interacting and communicating with Alzheimer’s patients

By Peter DiMaria

Recently we had to introduce a new senior care caregiver to an Alzheimer’s Care patient in Suffield, Connecticut

That is always a challenge. Alzheimer’s patients have difficulties in dealing with change. And that’s what happened in this case. Facing the new caregiver, our client became aggressive and uncooperative. The caregiver, however, was trained to deal with the situation. The caregiver also knew information about the client, for example, that he was a World War 2 Air Force veteran, and that made all the difference. Our caregiver asked the patient about his experiences in the Pacific, during the war. The patient mood changed completely to a friendly manner, enabling the caregiver to help him feed, clean his apartment and, most of all, stay calm.

Here go some tips for those dealing with Alzheimer’s Care patients or family members in Western Massachusetts and North Central Connecticut:

  • Talk “to” the person, not “about” them;
  • Do something “with” them, not “to” them;
  • Learn what gives meaning to their lives before interacting with them; talk to family members about that;
  • Clients retain likes and dislikes in relation to colors of clothes, food, temperature of the water; learn those traits as well;
  • Stay away from high-noise areas while communicating with them and keep television off unless requested by the patient;
  • Always approach the person from the front, because a sudden arrival from the back may scare them;
  • Call their name softly and be aware of your tone of voice; you may try a gentle touch if you still need to call their attention;
  • try holding their hand, smile and always maintain eye contact to make them feel safe;
  • be aware of your body language and facial expressions. As the disease progresses, it becomes more about what they feel about you leading them to do things, than verbal communication;
  • Never be confrontational. There is no point in disagreeing with an Alzheimer’s patient. Try to divert their attention to something else, instead;
  • Hold simple conversations and give instructions one at a time, with few words. Repeat if necessary, using the same words. Give them time, up to 20 seconds, to respond;
  • understand that if the client’s behavior doesn’t make sense, there usually is a reason you are not being able to figure out.

Hopefully, these tips will help a caregiver or a family member to communicate and interact with Alzheimer’s patients. At Home Helpers Home Care, we hire caregivers and CNAs (Certified Nursing Assistants) many of whom have previously been trained to deal with those affected with the disease. We also train them specifically to do that.

In that case, we have been receiving great feedback from our clients’ families. That’s the case of Mark C., who hired us for in-home care, for his mother, in Tolland, CT. “I wanted to let you know that Grace has been absolutely wonderful with mom. She has been able to get her up and having breakfast before 10 am most mornings. The way she is able to get mom to do what is needed makes it really obvious that she has lots of experience dealing with people with dementia. Both mom and dad think the world of her”, he wrote to me, in an email.

I felt very proud of Grace, but also very humbled. That is why I chose this type of business to work on. To help people to age with dignity, in their own homes. To help their families to know they are safe and being cared for. That means the world to me too.

Click here to learn more about Home Helpers Home Care Alzheimer's Care and Dementia Care in Western Massachusetts and North Central CT.

Click here to ask for help. It will make your care stronger.

At Home Helpers Home Care we have caregivers trained to deal with Alzheimer's and Dementia Care patients. They are experienced and knowledgeable and will help family members to feel more confident about the safety and wellness of their loved one.

Or call us now to talk about it:

Alzheimer's Care in Enfield (North Central CT): (860) 698-2244

Alzheimer's Care in East Longmeadow (Western MA): (413) 224-1045