Your Starting Points
- Approach your loved one from the front; avoid startling him or her in any way.
- Make eye contact when you come close because it shows your interest in them. If you have to, get down to the same level as them. In other words, do what it takes to make it easier for them to talk to you.
- Call him or her by name. This too is a good way of showing interest.
- Allow them to be the one to initiate touch. Your loved one will approach you when they are ready to do so.
- Give directions slowly and carefully. Remember: a person with Alzheimer’s will almost always have difficulty processing thoughts, especially complex ones, which means you should let them take their time about it.
More Things to Keep in Mind
Your visit to an assisted living facility will go better if you have a well-prepared plan. First things first: visit the facility at the right time of day, as well as keep your visit short. Have a few ideas on what you are going to be talking about, but also stay adaptable enough to follow a natural course of conversation in case that is what your loved one needs.
If they are talkative on that day, listen carefully to what they are saying. For instance, they may go back in memory to a time when they were at the cinema. The fact that they are talking about that particular incident is your cue to stay with them and give them the space they need to express themselves. In addition, contribute to the talk with something affirming from your own memory and experience. That could trigger the sort of good feeling you want your loved one to enjoy, without inadvertently harming their mental health in any way. If they do get a few facts wrong, it is best not to interrupt or argue the matter.
When You Communicate On the Telephone or Via Chat
It can be difficult talking with someone going through Alzheimer’s. The calls you once made can get filed with subdued quietness. You could still overcome these hurdles with the right preparation. Every good conversation starts with a plan regarding what to talk about, and when. Call at a time when you know your family member will be open to and comfortable having a conversation. Have topics with you as a backup. Above all, pay attention to what they have to say, and stay with them at every step.