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Staying Connected With A Parent Who Has Alzheimer's

If you have a parent with Alzheimer's Syndrome, you'll find it challenging to communicate with them as the disease progresses. Staying connected with that parent requires patience and the knowledge of techniques helpful to keep your parent focused. If your parent is being cared for by a facility that specializes in memory care in your area, watch the staff as they work with your parent. You'll pick up a number of tips to help you communicate with your parent. Here are some helpful skills for staying connected while talking with your parent.

Be Calm Around Your Parent

Your parent will have a heightened sensitivity to other people's energy around them. If you've had a hectic day and appear anxious or frustrated while speaking with your parent, they will pick up on your energy and may become irritable. They won't be able to focus on the conversation with you. Take some time to relax before talking with your parent.

Minimize Environmental Stimulus

Your parent's heightened sensitivity also means that they will have difficulty tuning out the sights and sounds around them to be able to focus on your conversation with them. A loud TV playing in the room next door or the sounds of the landscaping crew outside are enough to cause your parent to lose focus. Before starting any conversation with your parent, find a quiet place in which to talk. If the sounds persist, you're better off deferring any conversation with your parent until it becomes quiet.

Learn Techniques to Help Your Parent Stay Focused

Watch the staff in the memory care facility and you'll pick up several ways to help your parent stay focused on a conversation with you. Some of these include,

  • maintaining eye contact with your parent while speaking with them
  • being at the same eye level as your parent during the conversation
  • using your parent's name frequently during the conversation

If your parent becomes distracted by a movement or sound around them, touch them on their arm gently and say their name. You can also try acknowledging the distraction and bringing your parent back to the conversation. For example, if the sudden presence of loud children playing outside distracts your parent, you can say something like this:

"Those children sound like they're having fun outside. We were talking about what you would like to wear when we go out to dinner tonight."

Keep Questions Within the Cognitive Ability of Your Parent

Your parent will start to struggle with making choices. They will respond better to you when you ask questions that require only a "Yes" or "No" response. When possible, show examples while asking a question so your parent can clearly see the choice they have. For example, when asking your parent, "Would you like to wear the blue sweater tonight?", hold up the sweater so they can see it as you speak.

Be Patient As Your Parent Responds to Questions

Your parent may have the answer they want to give you in mind, but they can't find the words to use. Give your parent time to respond. Don't finish their sentences for them or ask them additional questions before they have responded. If your parent begins to get irritated at not being able to respond, calmly repeat the question. This helps them to regain focus and be able to finish their sentence.

For more information or assistance, contact a nursing home or assisted living center, like Gateway Living.