Connecting With Seniors Suffering From Alzheimer’s Using Sounds, Sight and Touch

When you hear the news that a loved one is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, it can take an emotional toll. Not only is it hurting the person living with the condition, but it can also affect close family members and friends.

Connecting is very important for someone living with Alzheimer’s. There are ways to help you communicate and connect with them as well as ways to connect via sound, sight and touch. We will review key factors of each.

Here are some ways to help communicate with your loved one who is living with Alzheimer’s from alz.org:

  1. When you speak to your loved one, keep your sentences as clear and straightforward as possible.
  2. Speak directly to them
  3. Include them in any conversation that affects them.
  4. Approaching them from the front, saying you who are and calling them by name can help with memory.
  5. Maintain eye contact as much as possible.
  6. Do your best to avoid criticizing, correcting or arguing with them.
  7. Tone is very important when communicating. Ensure that it is non-threatening, soft and friendly.
  8. Patience is very important. You may have to explain things several different times to get an answer or they may change their mind so ensure you are taking your time when speaking with them.
  9. Limit the amount of distractions when speaking to them.
  10. If they seem to struggle with words, offer a guess or fill in words for what you think they are trying to say.
  11. Writing things down can be very helpful.
  12. Never quiz them on various things, instead offer solutions to the problems without prompting them.
  13. Reassure them that you understand what they are saying.
  14. It’s important to focus on how they feel, not the facts of the situation.
  15. Validate and redirect if necessary.

To help your loved one connect through sound try these methods:

  1. Listening to some of their favorite music can help immensely with memory and connecting.
  2. Listening to recordings of nature, farm, city or animal sounds can be beneficial.
  3. Have them listen to and identify instruments based on how they sounds.
  4. If they speak multiple languages, it is better to listen to songs or speeches in their native tongue.
  5. Having you read various books, poetry, scripture or news to your family member is another way to connect through sounds.

To assist your family member with connecting through sight try these methods:

  1. Take brightly colored pictures, laminate them and look at them together.
  2. Various videos and documentaries of animals, nature and travel are helpful.
  3. Photo albums can be invaluable when connecting and helping with memory.
  4. Having them look at some of their favorite artwork, favorite places in the world or pictures of prominent people in the past can be beneficial.
  5. Bird-watching and visiting zoos or aquariums are another way to connect through sight.
  6. Painting with watercolors is a good source of connection.
  7. Lastly, just sitting outside or by an open window with your loved one can be beneficial.

Touch is the last way we will talk about to help connect with your loved one:

  1. The feel of various fabrics can be helpful to certain patients.
  2. Touching shapes and identifying them is helpful for connecting.
  3. Hand massages with lotion can help connect you.
  4. Asking them to reach into a bag and identify various items can help jog memories.
  5. Any visits with animals help with a variety of conditions and Alzheimer’s is no exception to that rule.
  6. Sculpting with non-toxic materials can help them use their hands and feel a different surface.
  7. Holding their hand or stroking their back or arm is the last way that can provide help with connection between you and a loved one.

Living with Alzheimer’s isn’t easy. Connecting with someone suffering with this disease can be very challenging at times. Cooperative Home Care trains our caregivers, nurses and therapists on how to successfully care for our clients who have dementia, including Alzheimer’s. Learn more here.