Alzheimer's Disease Patient Caregiver Guide

Quick Guide to Dementia

Quick GuideA Caregiver's Guide to Alzheimer's Disease

A Caregiver's Guide to Alzheimer's Disease

Communicating with a Person with Alzheimer's Disease

Trying to communicate with a person who has Alzheimer's disease can be a challenge. Both understanding and being understood may be difficult.

  • Choose simple words and short sentences and use a gentle, calm tone of voice.
  • Avoid talking to the person with Alzheimer's like a baby or talking about the person as if he or she weren't there.
  • Minimize distractions and noise—such as the television or radio—to help the person focus on what you are saying.
  • Make eye contact and call the person by name, making sure you have his or her attention before speaking.
  • Allow enough time for a response. Be careful not to interrupt.
  • If the person with Alzheimer's is struggling to find a word or communicate a thought, gently try to provide the word he or she is looking for.
  • Try to frame questions and instructions in a positive way.
  • Be open to the person's concerns, even if he or she is hard to understand.

Bathing a Person with Alzheimer's Disease

While some people with Alzheimer's disease don't mind bathing, for others it is a frightening, confusing experience. Advance planning can help make bath time better for both of you.

  • Plan the bath or shower for the time of day when the person is most calm and agreeable. Be consistent. Try to develop a routine.
  • Respect the fact that bathing is scary and uncomfortable for some people with Alzheimer's. Be gentle and respectful. Be patient and calm.
  • Tell the person what you are going to do, step by step, and allow him or her to do as much as possible.
  • Prepare in advance. Make sure you have everything you need ready and in the bathroom before beginning. Draw the bath ahead of time.
  • Be sensitive to the temperature. Warm up the room beforehand if necessary and keep extra towels and a robe nearby. Test the water temperature before beginning the bath or shower.
  • Minimize safety risks by using a handheld showerhead, shower bench, grab bars, and nonskid bath mats. Never leave the person alone in the bath or shower.
  • Try a sponge bath. Bathing may not be necessary every day. A sponge bath can be effective between showers or baths.

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