Alzheimer’s And The Holidays; Five Tips for The Family

Stockphoto1Through my years of working with Alzheimer’s patients, I have learned that proper communication is extremely vital. The disease often inhibits the ability to communicate creating emotions that cause high anxiety. This can escalate when they are reminded of what they don’t remember or when they don’t answer questions appropriately. This is why our reactions and guidance to help them not feel the anxiety of answering questions “wrongly” is so important. Here are five helpful tips to share with your family during this holiday season that I have found to be effective and beneficial:

        1. It is always best to address your loved one at eye level. If they are sitting or in a wheel chair, kneel down beside them or sit next to them. Having eye level contact will help the communication process.
        2. Ask simple questions that can be answered with a few words or less. Frustration and agitation can easily develop when your loved one struggles to find the words to express.
        3. Try not to ask “Do you remember” questions. It is likely that they will not remember. The stress and anxiety of trying to figure out how they should answer can set the mood for the rest of the conversation and visit.
        4. If you ask them a question and you can tell they don’t know the answer, it often helps to say something like….. “yeah, I wasn’t sure either” or “that was so long ago” and then redirect the conversation toward a new subject. Redirecting will often diffuse the frustration for not being able to remember.
        5. Avoid correcting their responses. If they say “I just returned from church” and it’s Tuesday afternoon, it’s okay to go along with what they are expressing. Correcting a loved one will often lead to frustration.
About Kim Roy, LPN

Kim Roy, LPN, Nursing Supervisor - Kim is the Nursing Supervisor and team leader for the Alzheimer’s Specialty Care Team for Charlotte’s Angels Home Care Services in Joplin, Missouri. Her experience includes being the Director of Nursing in an assisted living and memory unit to working in Hospice as the Director of Nursing and Marketing. Kim continues to provide Alzheimer's / dementia training and educational support to families through the Alzheimer’s Specialty Care Team in SW Missouri. Kim is also certified as a Alzheimer's / Dementia Trainer.