Elder Care Resources: How To Successfully Communicate With Loved Ones In Cognitive Decline
Throughout the U.S., there are more than 5 million people of all ages diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. There are many others who are experiencing age-related cognitive decline. And there are more than 16 million unpaid family members and friends caring for those loved ones with Alzheimer’s and other dementias and forms of cognitive decline. https://www.alz.org/alzheimers-dementia/facts-figures
Unpaid typically means untrained. Unlike professional caregivers, most family members and friends are at a loss as to how to communicate with someone in cognitive decline.
As the signs of dementia begin to appear in a loved one, it can be confusing and difficult for family members to communicate with them. Until a diagnosis has been made, very often loved ones tend to get impatient with the one experiencing cognitive decline, which only adds to his or her growing state of confusion. Once everyone is aware of the specific condition, the most important thing for caregivers to master when living with and caring for a person in cognitive decline is patience. Easier said than done. And the only way to master anything is with a great deal of practice.
It’s important also to keep in mind that even if a person has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, that the disease affects each person differently. There is no set way that it progresses. That means that changes in the ability to communicate can vary greatly depending on the individual and what stage of the disease they are in.
If you are an unpaid caregiver for your loved one in cognitive decline, there are many online resources that can help you learn to communicate lovingly and successfully. I’ve included the link to Alzheimer’s Association, which I find a particularly rich source of information and guidance. The list below includes some of the problems you can expect to see throughout the disease’s progression:
- Difficulty finding the right words
- Using familiar words repeatedly
- Describing familiar objects rather than calling them by name
- Easily losing a train of thought
- Difficulty organizing words logically
- Reverting to speaking a native language
- Speaking less often
- Relying on gestures more than speaking