How to Improve Communication with Loved Ones with Memory Loss

When a loved one has Alzheimer’s disease or another form of memory loss, communication can become difficult. The changes that Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of memory loss cause in the brain can create the potential for trouble speaking, issues portraying thoughts and lack of understanding. When this occurs, it can be hard to know what to do or how to approach communication with your loved one; however, understanding how communication may change, how your loved one will be affected and how to improve communication can help both yourself and your loved one with memory loss greatly. Robin Crum, Executive Director of YourLife™ of Pensacola, a Memory Care community in Pensacola, FL, states that there are many ways communication can change. “During memory loss, you may notice that your loved one begins having trouble finding the right words, causing them to substitute words, point at what they are talking about, describing it or forgetting the thought altogether. You may also experience them repeating the same words, questions and even stories that you’ve heard multiple times, without ever remembering they just asked or shared it,” says Robin. “This can be disheartening for both you and your loved one, and it can cause them to speak less often than they once did, which hinders communication even more. If you begin to notice your loved one having communication issues, it’s important to try to make a change to help them right away. Be patient, keep your frustration in check and seek out new techniques to encourage your loved one to continue communicating with you as much as possible.”

Techniques to Improve Communication

If your loved one is dealing with memory loss and communication is beginning to be affected, try some of the following techniques that the Alzheimer’s Association® offers to help improve healthy communication, prevent depression and enhance happiness and engagement.

  • Listen carefully. Those with memory loss tend to speak slowly, may take some time to get their thoughts out and may have a hard time finding words. Don’t interrupt, take time to listen to their thoughts, feelings and needs and assist them in finding the right words if they ask for help. This can help to boost their confidence, improve their mood and allow them to feel as though you’re trying your best to understand them. Don’t underestimate the importance of eye contact, as well. This can allow them to feel respected.
  • Be mindful of how you speak. Talking down to your loved one with dementia, excluding them from conversations or speaking as if they aren’t there can make your loved one frustrated, agitated and can even cause them to act out. Instead, speak slowly, clearly and directly to the person with memory loss.
  • Discuss what methods of communication are best. Do you find your loved one is getting frustrated when talking on the phone? Do their have an easier time holding a discussion away from others, in a one-on-one setting? Be sure to ask. Face-to-face conversations, emails, handwritten notes and phone calls are some of the most common ways that those with memory loss communicate. Allowing them to set the tone for can help reduce frustration and increase the likelihood of communication.
  • Be there for them. If your loved one is having a particularly bad day, or is feeling self-conscious or upset about the changes they are facing, be sure to reassure them and let them know you are there for them. Sometimes it can help to find humor with your loved one and laugh, so long as they also believe it’s funny. Be mindful of this to ensure they don’t feel as though you are laughing at them.

It’s important to understand that in the later stages of memory loss, communication may become difficult or impossible. When this occurs, be sure to identify yourself, communicate through gestures if possible, use touch, sight, sound and smells to communicate and understand that simply being there is often enough. This can be a difficult time for both you and your loved one, and if you need additional communication tips, advice or support, contact the team at YourLife™ of Pensacola. Our expert team would be happy to help guide you on your journey. To RSVP to a support group or to get in touch with a member of our team, contact us today!

The Memory Care Your Loved One Deserves.

Offering the very best in Memory Care, YourLife™ of Pensacola was designed specifically with residents in mind. We’ve created a community where residents can define their own lifestyle, based on their preferences, needs and story, all while having the peace of mind of 24-hour support and the freedom to define their own lifestyles. Because we focus solely on Memory Care, all of our resources and attention are on catering to each resident’s needs while providing unequaled peace of mind for families. Our licensed nurses and YourLife™ Personal Care Specialists are on site 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to provide personally inspired care and support, no matter what your needs. With such dedicated care, our residents have the support they need to live as independently and engaged as possible. At YourLife™ of Pensacola, YourStory comes to life. Whether you want to enjoy our exclusive activities and YourStory programming, spend time exploring our services and amenities, relax in our easy-to-navigate Memory Care neighborhoods and living areas or try something new, the choice is entirely up to you. Contact us to learn more!