Tips for Communicating with a Loved One Experiencing Memory Loss

If your loved one is experiencing memory issues, or has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or dementia, communicating with them can be frustrating. Your patience may wear thin and you may find yourself escalating into arguments that can stress your relationship.

It’s important to remember that your loved one may not speak or act in the ways that you are used to. As your loved one’s memory loss progresses, it’s crucial to adapt your communication style in order to maintain a positive relationship.

Here are some helpful tips from the team at Carefield Pleasanton Memory Care:

  1. Take a Breath. Taking a moment to breathe and counting to five will help diffuse any temporary emotions. Caregivers find themselves in multiple stressful situations everyday. Mom won’t take her bath, or Dad refuses to eat or drink. Stepping away and counting to five can give you the patience to regroup and try again.
  2. Avoid Engaging in a Power Struggle. Sometimes it takes letting go of being right or having the final say in an argument. Keep in mind your loved one is not sound of mind, so engaging in an argument is similar to pushing a boulder up a hill. The best option is to not engage or try to “win”. Instead, use neutral responses like “That sounds about correct.” or simply nod.
  3. Redirect. Many with memory loss will talk in circles or become fixated on something. For example, if mom is fixated on the fact that she cannot take her daily walk due to it raining try to redirect her by focusing her attention on her favorite TV show or having her look through a photo album. Redirection helps your loved one refocus, but also helps you avoid meltdowns and conflict.
  4. Try Assertive Communication in the Form of “Yes” or “No” questions. For loved ones with memory loss, avoid open-ended questions. Instead of “What would you like to have for lunch today?” ask “Would you like a sandwich or pasta for lunch today?” Open ended questions can be mentally difficult for those with memory loss and can cause confusion, leading to anger and stress. Bringing your loved one closer to the point of decision-making can still give them a choice and exercise their independence.

Engage In the Help of Memory-Care Professionals. Reaching out to your local experts can help as well. The team at Carefield Pleasanton is always available to answer your questions about memory care for your loved one, and the benefits of a community. Contact Carefield Pleasanton by calling (925) 750-8744 or visit today.