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How to Communicate with Nursing Home Residents with Dementia and Alzheimer’s

By Walton Law APCJune 7, 2023October 12th, 2023No Comments

Communication is key to any relationship. It is no different when it’s the relationship between nursing home residents and their caregivers. When you place your parent, spouse, or other loved one into a nursing home, you send them there with the expectation that they are in good hands. It is the responsibility of the staff to ensure that their needs are met. A big part of that has to do with talking to the resident; good communication will help put them at ease. This is true for all nursing home residents, but it’s especially critical for those with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Nursing home staffers who interact with residents who have cognitive impairments should have special training in dealing with patients with these types of medical issues. This includes special knowledge of communication techniques because the residents function better with someone who can comprehend their mental limitations. Read on for helpful communication tips that you can use. You can also use this as a guide to watch nursing home staff and whether they are adequately communicating with your loved one.

Communication Tips for Caregivers in Nursing Homes

Here are important things to remember when you’re speaking to individuals with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease:

  • Speak slowly and clearly with simple instructions: A caregiver should not engage the resident with fast talk or a lot of words that they can’t process.
  • Wait for their response: Before asking follow-up questions or adding more information, give them time to respond. Then you can slowly begin to add to the conversation.
  • Don’t tell them that they are wrong: Obviously, the person who suffers from dementia will have their facts mixed up and will often say things that are inaccurate and wrong. However, it’s not helpful to point it out. Don’t fixate on correcting them. Instead, try to re-direct the conversation and move away from that topic. This can be especially troublesome regarding serious subjects. For instance, if a person with Alzheimer’s asks about their dead spouse, avoid saying something like, “Don’t you remember? They died.” Hearing that a loved one is dead can feel like they are experiencing it for the first time again. Additionally, reminding them that they can’t remember important facts isn’t productive.
  • Avoid open-ended questions: People with cognitive impairments have trouble with these inquiries. Instead, ask them specific yes or no questions. “Do you want to read this newspaper?” or “Do you want to drink some water?”

Make Sure that Nursing Home Staffers are Communicating with Your Loved One

Sometimes it’s difficult for nursing home residents to fully engage in conversations. It can be hard for them to express their needs, especially if they suffer from dementia, Alzheimer’s, or other cognitive impairments. If you suspect neglect or abuse in their nursing home, then you should get involved as soon as possible. To get help with a possible nursing home abuse claim, you can count on the expertise of a Walton Law attorney. Contact us today for compassionate insight and guidance.