Caregiver Tips: Words That Help – When the elder you care for has Alzheimer’s Disease

Positive communication and the confused elder.

Just as words can be negative (see: Words That Hurt) words can also be used to make a person feel good about themselves. It can be:
• The way you say it.
• The words you use.
• The body language you show.

The way you say it – say it with a smile.

When words are said with a negative voice – if the confused elder has lost their word skills, and no longer understand the word – they only have the tone of the voice to go on. Even a compliment will sound bad if the tone of the voice is negative. When the tone of the voice communicates anger, impatience, and disgust – the person will become very aware of their dysfunction.

When you say something with a smile on your face – it will be communicated into the tone of your voice. It has been proved to take more face muscles to frown than to smile – so give your face a rest and smile.

Avoid negative words – use positive words.

 Avoid words like don’t, no, can’t, and stop. Use words like thank you, good Job, let’s do that together, words that make a person feel positive and helpful. Elders with Alzheimer’s disease want to contribute and be helpful. It is so easy to say “thank you” and build that persons self esteem.

The confused elder can still read body language.
 Crossing your arms, tapping a foot, showing impatience, people with Alzheimer’s disease can read body language very late into the disease process. When the confused elder no longer has verbal skills they can still read the caregiver’s body language.

Talking about the person – in front of them as though they are not there is never appropriate.

Use words that build –not words that tear down and see the difference in the person you are caring for.

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