This week’s question:
My husband has Alzheimer’s, and he just won’t listen to anything that I say! I’m just trying to help him. How do I convince him to listen to me?
It can be very frustrating when you find you are repeating yourself, and yet your loved one simply doesn’t seem to understand or accept what you are telling them. It is important to keep in mind that they are not doing this on purpose. Alzheimer’s is a disease that takes away someone’s ability to understand and/or reason, and behavior changes can often arise from the disease affecting certain areas of the brain as well as general discomfort. Because we cannot change the person with Alzheimer’s, we must focus on changing how we present information.
A few important things to remember when communicating with someone with Alzheimer’s and dementia:
- Don’t argue
Remain patient with the person with dementia, even when they are behaving in an aggressive or accusatory manner. Rather than taking things personally, respond to and acknowledge their feelings, and distract them with the promise of an activity or reward that they enjoy.
- Don’t remind them about their condition
Nobody likes to be told about their memory problems. Instead of focusing on technicalities, it is better to respond to the person’s feelings and wishes, and to reassure them. Avoiding insistence and instead giving them time to comprehend your words will also allow you to avoid repeating yourself.
- Use careful wording
Use amicable, pacifying words that will make the person feel valid and dignified. It is also important to reduce feelings of anxiety by constantly reassuring them, and avoiding ambiguity in your words – for example, when asking them what they would like to eat, go further and give them options to choose from; this will make communication more straightforward and avoid distress.
Our Helpline and our Family Strategies classes can help you navigate through behavior and communication changes, and provide tips that may help. For an in-depth guide on strategies for communicating with a person with Alzheimer’s based on our “Caring Conversations” class, you can also visit our blog.
Have questions concerning Alzheimer’s, dementia, or other memory issues? We have answers.
As part of our array of programs and services for local families affected by Alzheimer’s and dementia, Alzheimer’s Orange County offers a free telephone helpline to answer any questions you may have about the disease. Whether you are someone experiencing dementia or other memory problems, a caregiver, or simply have questions about the disease, our experts are here to provide you with the information, resources, and advice that you need.
Our very own Helpline Specialists join us on our blog series to answer the most frequently asked questions that they encounter from caregivers and their loved ones, as well as their solutions to common issues and difficulties you may be experiencing.
Have a question about Alzheimer’s & dementia, but don’t see it here? Be sure to contact Alzheimer’s Orange County’s Helpline at 844-HELP-ALZ (844-435-7259) and we will help. To see the other programs and resources that Alzheimer’s Orange County can offer to you and your loved ones, visit our website at https://www.alzoc.org/.