Responding Positively to Alzheimer’s Behaviors: Communication Techniques

It is well documented that Alzheimer’s Disease(AD) causes the brain to deteriorate, causing severe memory loss, distorted thinking and personality changes.  As a result, many caregivers have great difficulty managing the dementia behavior.  This week I will be providing caregivers with techniques to manage the dementia behavior; topics I will be discussing include, “Communication Techniques”, “Understanding the Clients View of Reality”, “Dealing with Personality Changes” and “Wandering Behaviors”.  The hope is for the caregiver to have a better understanding regarding the “triggers” associated with behavior management.  As a result, the caregiver will provide a    positive outcome to  behavior management strategies for the client.

As the AD progresses we often note communication changes in the client, such as their difficulties with wordfinding, difficulty naming objects and vocabulary skills diminishing. Coping with changes in communication skills requires the caregiver to have first  an understanding of the disease process; plus strategies to assist the dementia client to communicate their needs.  For many with dementia wordfinding difficulties  becomes a significant source of anxiety and frustration for both caregiver and client.

As a result, the caregiver learns  the impact nonverbal communication has on the dementia client, who has begun to have difficulty processing language, such as body language, tone of voice and facial expression. Understanding approaches to communication with the dementia client, both verbal and non-verbal alike, provides for a positive response to interaction and behavior management.

The following suggestions will validate positive communication between caregiver and dementia client.

1. Ask one question at a time.

2. Allow enough time for a response.

3. Assume the resident is able to understand.

4. Avoid disagreement: never argue with the dementia client.

5. Apologize if you upset a client with dementia.

6. Use a client’s preferred name at all times.

7. Include the client in your conversations.

8. Speak to the client with dementia like adults.

9. Use encouragement, reassurance and praise.

10. Use humor as appropriate.

Caring Resources can assist family members and caregivers in providing the best care for loved ones living with Alzheimer’s Disease.  We teach a variety of behavior management techniques and can design individual plans to address many challenging behaviors. For more information on our training modules contact a Caring Resources representative.

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